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Sanitation Department in Marilla to change ‘zig-zag’ process

Despite defending their practice of crossing the highway and roads in Marilla to pick up garbage and refuse, the Marilla Sanitation Department will now have to keep its big trucks and employees on one side of the road at a time.

Complaints from resident Richard Rose alerted Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr., who contacted the insurance company, East Aurora-based Tompkins Insurance Agency, to see if the town employees practice of zigzagging across the road to pick up trash cans was putting employees at risk.

Senior Safety Management Specialist Deborah O’Reilly-Morshead told Gingerich in a letter that the resident was correct; neither the truck nor the employee should zig-zag across roads to pick up trash cans, crossing the road and emptying them into a parked truck and then crossing the road again, to replace the cans.

O’Reilly-Morshead said the safest way to complete this task is what other companies such as Waste Management, Fed-Ex and UPS do: go up one side of the road and then go down the other side.

The insurance company said the current practice exposes the town to potential liability claims as the activity does not involve any type of road maintenance such as paving, plowing or grass cutting. They also cited court actions from other areas.

Continuation of this practice was defended at a July meeting of the Town Board by Highway and Sanitation Supervisor Ronald Unverdorben.

Unverdorben said at that time, in his opinion, “the new method of picking up trash will result in the workers being more vulnerable due to the hills and valleys in Marilla which limit vision of traffic coming and going. And the new practice will take longer and workers will not be able to finish the pickup for the town in one day.”

The insurance company said, “Although the practice of crossing the road has been an accepted practice, it is not. It just means the town is overdue for an accident.”

The insurance company wanted the practice changed so neither the truck nor the employees are crossing the road to pick up trash.

Gingerich said the policy has been changed and as of Monday, the new policy will be in effect. The truck and employees will go up one side of the road and then turn around and go down the other side.