Consider the repetitive motion of lifting and dumping more than 1,200 50-pound cans of trash every day. A person can get into a pretty good rhythm, only to have it interrupted when several 60-plus cans show up on the daily garbage pick-up route.
Then, consider the two or three heavy bags of yard waste or cardboard boxes of trash set out after along three-day weekend. That is the routine faced by Yakima Waste System garbage workers every day.
"And that's a lot of trash," admits Scott Robertson, general manager of the Yakima garbage service.
When too many garbage cans weigh over the limit his company gets concerned. The over packed garbage cans are tagged and sometimes left behind. "It becomes a matter of safety for my workers," he said.
Robertson said his contract with the City of Sunnyside restricts the weight of each can to 50 pounds, to be contained in a lidded 32-gallon trash can. The base rate for Sunnyside residents is three cans, he said.
"If there is more trash than will fit into the resident's garage cans an extra charge applies," he explained.
"We work hard to maintain good relations with the community," he said. "But, in turn we hope residents understand that our workers deserve some consideration as well."
Robertson said there are some trash items which his crews are told not to pick up.
"We ask residents not to put chemical waste in their home trash cans," Robertson said.
He said chemical waste creates a number of hazardous conditions for the company's employees.
"Every year residential chemical waste, such as cans of unused herbicides or insecticides or partially full paint cans cause fires in our garage trucks," he said.
He said pool chemicals are especially dangerous when dumped in with the regular household waste.
"Chemicals mixed in the regular trash creates health hazards for our employees which can lead to Labor and Industries claims and ultimately higher garbage costs," he explained.
The state safety rules also provide regulations for safety of garbage workers regarding such things as damaged garbage cans, loose bags or large items which might cause injuries, he added.
"We have set up chemical waste sites around the Lower Valley communities for the proper disposal of such waste," Robertson said.
Other items which are not are not hauled by the residential garage men include large appliances, furniture and tires.
"We encourages residents to make special arrangements for pick-up of such items by calling our toll free number (1-800-572-9738)," he said.
There is an additional charge for such services outside of the regular residential charges, he explained.
Another waste product which is often over looked as an health hazard is cat litter. Often residents dump the litter loose in the trash cans," he said.
"We asks that pet owners double bag their cat litter," Robertson said.