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Extreme heat leads to uptick in sick calls among sanitation workers, Arlington city officials say

City leaders are looking to possibly upgrade the department with automated trash collection trucks.

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — While driving through some neighborhoods in Arlington, you might see trash on the curb more than usual. That's because the past few days, it's just too hot for some collection workers

Peggy Lively set her trash out Tuesday afternoon unsure of when it would be picked up.

"I thought I missed the opportunity because many times they will come in the morning, like mid to late morning," said Lively.

The City of Arlington contracts trash pickup with Republic Services in neighborhoods, like Lively's twice a week. But Republic is dealing with sick calls, because some of the collection workers can't take the heat outside.

"To be as active as they are picking up the trash and all, I would not even mind if they came once a week, or if they delivered after and later in the day, just so that it is more tolerable for them," said Lively. 

In most cases, a team of three people work on the trash trucks, including a driver and two collectors. Republic Services even stocks the trucks with water to help keep employees hydrated in the hot weather. 

Employee health and safety is priority. So when they are short on truck collection workers, the schedules for pick up are adjusted to eventually fulfill their contract obligations with the city.  

As the weather impacts collection days, Arlington city leaders are looking to possibly upgrade equipment. Already, recycling materials in the city are picked up every week by automated trucks. The driver remains behind the wheel while operating an automated arm that dumps recyclables instead by hand.  

During a June presentation, city leaders learned not only about costs, but also that transitioning to automated trash trucks is an 18 to 24-month process.

Lively supports automation, especially if it helps employees. But Lively is also concerned how that decision will affect the employees currently working on the back of manual trucks. 

"I hope they can transition into to something else in the company," said Lively.

Right now, Arlington residents will have to rely on the manual collection method for at least the next couple of years. That makes the people working on the back of the collection trucks even more of a necessity.

Republic Services also contracts with several municipalities in North Texas. The service contract company is always looking for new people to hire. People interested in joining the Republican Services Team can visit the company career page at https://www.republicservices.jobs/

Republic Services has several positions open, including collection workers, drivers, customers service, sales and others throughout the company all over Texas and in several other states across the country.


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