PLATTEVILLE (WKOW) -- It's an essential service that puts workers at risk as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to increase. Garbage haulers continue to handle the waste and recycling from homes, medical facilities, and the businesses that have remained open.
"Are the guys nervous about that stuff? I think so," said Ed Faherty, Vice President of Faherty Incorporated in Platteville. "I think they are but I will say no different than a medical provider. A doctor and nurse are exposed to that stuff and and that's the same hazard they face in our daily job - and I don't want to put us in the same category as medical professionals."
Faherty is the contractor collecting trash and recycling for a number of municipalities across Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette counties. Ed Faherty said Thursday the company has instituted some changes this week; the biggest is a request to the municipalities they serve, including Platteville, Dodgeville, and Darlington.
Faherty wants residents to no longer put their garbage and recycling in bins and cans; instead, they asked residents to set out bags - clear ones for recycling, ideally.
"We were more concerned about the potential spread for the customer," Ed Faherty said. "So, if that employee is only grabbing a bag, they're not taking back that can and touching everyone else's can and having that resident
come out and grab that recycling bin that we also touched."
Faherty said the company has also made changes meant to protect workers. Drivers are now supposed to wipe down the cabs of their trucks at the start and end of each shift. They're also asking the public to make sure they're securing the contents inside of their garbage bags.
"Make sure those Kleenex from that bathroom are double-bagged inside that bag," Faherty said. "Know that if a bag is ripped open at your curb, I've already instructed my guys not to pick that up because I don't want them handling the individual pieces of garbage from a home."
As is the case with so much else, Faherty said more changes could be coming to his business. Specifically, he said they're considering a temporary ban on public waste and recycling drop-offs at their Plattesville facility.
Dane County Collectors, Sites Making Their Own Changes
Danielle Pellitteri, V.P. of Sales at Pellitteri Waste Systems, said Thursday her business has instructed its drivers to avoid contact with people along their routes and to avoid coming into the facility. Instead, they're taking tablets with them for time clocks and are placing dirty uniforms in a bin outside the facility.
John Welch, Dane County's Director of Waste and Renewables said they've instituted changes at the county landfill. There's a new restrictions on cash transactions; the public can now pay only with credit card at a self-serve kiosk. The department has also installed a plexiglass window separating employees from members of the public who approach the desk for help. Welch said non-essential operations employees are currently working from home.
Bryan Johnson, Public Information Officer for the City of Madison Streets Division, said the department has staggered start times to facilitate social distancing. Walk-in customer service is now closed to the public. While drop-off sites remain open, workers will no longer help unload vehicles.