Minneapolis trash and recycling crews welcome new coronavirus precautions

Minneapolis trash and recycling workers are welcoming new workplace precautions.

The Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling Department is taking precautions to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the stay-at-home order in place, many communities are seeing an influx of trash. Crews in the field are seeing a lot more residential waste, which is raising concerns about the potential for exposure to the virus.

Work is being done right now to ensure that crews stay safe over the 58-square miles the trash and recycling collectors cover while they provide the essential service.

“I use a lot more hand sanitizer in the truck,” said Mark Holznagel. “We’ve always carried hand sanitizer with us, but we use it a lot more often.”

“I think that the awareness is there that this is a serious issue,” said department Director David Herberholz.

Herberholz says, so far, daily operations have gone unchanged.

“This is more of a people-transmitted virus and not the material that we’re collecting, so I think, from that end, it’s business as usual with the materials that we’re collecting,” he added.

The department is advising workers who travel in semi-automated vehicles to maintain distance and face masks will be the newest addition to their arsenal of personal protection equipment.

“Once we get masks, we’ll make it mandatory that when for individuals are in tighter proximity than six feet where it’s necessary for them to be riding in the cab of a truck that they be required to wear masks,” Herberholz.

The safety measures are welcomed by the people out in the field working during a public health crisis.

“It’s kind of in the back of your head,” said Holznagel. “I mean you have a job to do and you just try to do it a little bit safer these days than you did before.”

The city of Minneapolis has more than 100 waste collectors.

One way residents can help keep workers safe is to make sure their garbage and recycling are in their containers.