October 20, 2021

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Business Life

The hazards of sanitation work, an essential, dangerous job in NYC

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DSNY picks up the trash of residents, schools, and non-profits. Restaurants and businesses must pay for private trash collection.

New York Department of Sanitation

Squiciari tosses garbage into the hopper.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: DSNY

Business Insider shadowed two sanitation workers on their route — Kevin Greenan and Mike Squiciari. Greenan had been on the job for about 20 years, and Squiciari for about 33 years.

New York Department of Sanitation

Greenan and Squiciari prepare for their routes after roll call at the New York City Department of Sanitation.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


The two don’t normally work together, but Squiciari’s usual partner was out for the day. Since they have seniority, the two get more flexibility to pick the routes and schedules they want.

New York Department of Sanitation

Squiciari on the route.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


We began in the Spring Street Garage on the west side of Lower Manhattan, and our route included parts of Soho and Greenwich Village.

dsny route soho

We were on the west side of Lower Manhattan.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


We drove behind the garbage truck alongside DSNY chief Keith Mellis for safety reasons. Chief Mellis oversees all five boroughs and began with the department as a sanitation worker in Harlem 33 years ago.

New York Department of Sanitation

Chief Mellis follows in an SUV behind a collection truck on a daily route.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Hoppers can be dangerous as they break down garbage quickly, and trash can quickly get sprayed outward.

hopper

The hopper on a collection truck.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: DSNY

Sanitation workers must stand to the side of the hopper as they load trash into the vehicle.

New York Department of Sanitation

Squiciari tosses garbage into the hopper.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: DSNY

One sanitation worker in Brooklyn died after dumping trash that contained acid. The acid sprayed outward after it got sucked into the hopper and got on the sanitation worker’s skin.

New York Department of Sanitation

Greenan collects garbage on the side of the hopper.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: The New York Times

Sanitation workers must pass a civil service exam — which includes both a written and physical portion — before getting hired.

New York Department of Sanitation

Greenan and Squiciari work together on their route.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


Source: DSNY

Squiciari, whose coworkers nicknamed him “Mikey Arms,” is a bodybuilder and trainer. He says part of what allowed him to stay on the job for 33 years was his physical fitness and time spent in the gym.

New York Department of Sanitation

Squiciari discusses the challenging duties of a sanitation worker.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


“If you plan on taking this job, try to be young and take care of your body,” Squiciari told Business Insider. “Eat healthy and exercise. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I’ve lasted 33 years doing this job in all different weather conditions. Thank God I feel great.”

New York Department of Sanitation

Squiciari (right) and Greenan (left) discuss the dangers of sanitation work.

Joey Hadden/Business Insider


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