Garbage crews will be carrying a set of scales with them in their truck this year.
If your garbage or recycling bag looks a little on the heavy side, they will weigh it and if it’s over 44 pounds (20 kg) they’ll leave it on the curb with a note telling you it’s too heavy.
In addition to rejecting bags that are too heavy, city workers will not take bags that have been left inside garbage cans.
This new procedure is part of an amendment to the city’s Waste Management and Wildlife Attractant Bylaw, adopted at city council on January 9.
It’s an attempt to reduce the high number of job related injuries suffered by garbage pick-up workers, mostly back injuries.
“Since 2012, there have been a total of 13 reported injuries of city employees directly linked to garbage collection,” said director of public works Colin Innes.
“We found in our review that the weight of the bag, trying to get bags out of the bins, and garbage becoming water soaked all lead to additional strain on our employees and the injuries we were seeing.”
The new weight limit replaces the old limit of 50 pounds.
The city’s attempt to find the causes of the injuries found that the majority of injuries were a result of garbage bags being too heavy, the use of improper body mechanics while loading bags into the truck resulted in injury, injuries occurred through use of a long reach to deposit garbage in the truck, injuries occurred through twisting while lifting, icy or slippery conditions contributed to incidents, the majority of the incidents happened while staff were assigned to the smaller truck, and the majority if not all of the incidents could have been prevented.
Employees will receive in-service training in pre-work stretching and in the need for physical fitness.
“On average, one staff person moves approximately 4,300 kg on any single collection day,” according to a news release from the city.
“Based on this we also felt it important to spread the collection among more employees.
“By reducing the number of days per week that an individual works, it will greatly reduce the total amount of waste collected by that person and should reduce the number of on-the-job injuries related to heavy and repetitive lifting.
“It should be noted that 20 kg is the standard bag weight in the majority of municipalities in British Columbia.”
Full implementation of the program will begin the week of February 27. In the preceding weeks the city will introduce a process of education and warnings.