An Interview with Jim O., Senior Vice President of Safety

April 1, 2020

At Republic Services, the safety and well-being of our employees and their families is our highest priority. With the COVID-19 situation evolving rapidly, we wanted to check in with our Senior Vice President of Safety Jim O. to learn more about what we are doing to help keep our employees safe and healthy.

Q: What’s important to know about the steps Republic is taking to protect employees?

Employee safety is Republic’s #1 priority and to help ensure employees are protected we review science-based information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) daily, strictly adhering to their guidance for our industry. We are also active on the Safety Committee of the National Waste and Recycling Association. We have a leadership role in helping set the standard for all waste and recycling workers.   

Q: Is it safe to collect and process waste that may have come into contact with Covid-19?

Yes.  In fact, OSHA has issued specific guidance for municipal solid waste and recycling workers that states: “Workers and employers should manage municipal solid waste and recycling material with potential or known COVID-19 contamination like any other non-contaminated solid waste and recycling material. Use typical engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent worker exposure to any contaminants in the materials they manage.” This is how we handle this type of waste every day!

Q: What are we doing to keep local facilities safe, clean and operational for office employees?

We have increased cleaning and sanitizing of offices, bathrooms and common areas at all our facilities across the country, based on state and local health guidelines. Here are a few examples of what we are doing to keep our facilities clean:

  • Getting cleaning and disinfecting supplies to our employees everywhere
  • Cleaning and sanitizing our facilities multiple times per day
  • Staying flexible on how we handle crew in, crew out, breaks, etc.
  • We review our inventory of cleaning supplies daily and are leveraging our national procurement team to help maintain adequate levels.
  • We have deep cleaning disinfection plans in place for any of our operating locations that are impacted by COVID-19.

Q: Are there steps we should all be taking to protect ourselves?

As a reminder, precautionary measures include: Wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing and stay home if you are sick. Learn more at CDC.gov.

Q: We are so grateful for our drivers who are out there on the front lines every day. Are there things we can do as a society to help support them during this time?

Absolutely. We all need to remember to operate our own vehicles safely when driving around garbage trucks. It is more likely than ever to be distracted with everything going on right now.  It is critically important to keep your eyes on the road, wear your seat belt and focus on just driving.

A big thank you to Jim for these updates. Blue Nation will continue to bring you interviews with senior leaders and share information to keep you informed. If you have any questions, let us know at BlueNation@RepublicServices.com.