2016 Comes to a Close

Tue, Dec 13, 2016 at 11:20AM

2016 Comes to a Close

Where did the 2016 year go? It is customary to say this every December, but I truly feel like this year was a blur. Many things have changed and are changing in our industry. If you recap the monthly articles I wrote, I touched on many of them. We as an industry are at a deficit of available quality drivers, our operational cost continues to climb across the board, the issue of staffing challenges, increase in worker compensation and insurance rates, the falling prices of commodities and the need to increase service rates are a few of the highpoints. Gone are the days of being the cheapest hauler; we all work extremely hard and juggle many moving parts on a daily basis to work for low margins. Safety is a number one priority. In order to truly be safe you need to have members auditing on a daily basis. We are in the top five most dangerous occupations in the country and if we do not change our safety priorities, worker’s compensation and insurance premiums will eat you alive. Whether 2016 was a good or bad year, 2017 will have its opportunities and challenges related to success. I suggest that good or bad, you need to get ready to hit the ground running in 2017.

Finishing Strong

Finishing the year strong is very important. During the holiday season, there are many hazards that could cause concerns to your safety program. I will briefly lay out a few:

  • Increase of Waste: With Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we all experience an increase in unwanted electronics thrown to the curb. Be very careful of these items because depending on the specific models being thrown out, they could be environmental/health concerns. 
  • Technology: You have seen on the news recently about the banning of specific cell phones on airplanes, especially those that are blowing up spontaneously. Well, we do not want them in our garbage trucks either. Alert your staff to remove these items and notify the customer to dispose these phone by another means. 
  • Increased Road Rage: It is unfortunate, but the garage guys will ultimately get caught in the cross hairs. People will be rushing for last minute shopping, distracted drivers using cell phones, people rushing to stores, running traffic signals, etc. Make all employees aware of these hazards prior to the holiday season. Have them drive extra carefully and look for and avoid distracted drivers. 
  • Changing Weather: Many parts of our country will experience changing weather and elements; daylight savings time has many areas of the country getting darker sooner. Encourage routes to be completed in daylight hours. Be in no rush—some areas will have snow on the ground, adding another measure to be aware of when attempting to stay safe.
  • Holiday Treats: I know it may seem like overkill, but be careful of consuming food given to you while on route. Whether it is residential or commercial, I would avoid eating the home baked cookies or anything not in a sealed package. A driver could have an allergy or become sick, which affects his driving skills. Also, it’s no secret that alcohol is sometimes given out. Per DOT, even if it packaged, this is illegal. Make sure your employees do not attempt to hide that case of beer or bottle of alcohol. It is not worth it!

I hope everyone has a safe and prosperous end to 2016. Take the time to recognize and reward key people in the organization. Encourage them to spend time with their families and remember the meaning for the seasons. I hope everyone has enjoyed this year’s articles. I encourage you to reach out with any topics or concerns that you would like me to discuss or give my thoughts on. From my family and members of Florida Express Environmental, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Let’s finish strong and get ready for 2017! | WA

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s (Ocala, FL) General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world that we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@ or visit

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