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Environmental and general services dept. implements changes to keep employees safe, healthy

Posted at 9:20 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 09:19:06-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The City of Tucson's Environmental and General Services Department has implemented changes to keep their waste management employees safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department oversees waste management pickup drivers and has began staggering employees shift times to ensure social distancing is possible.

Pat L. Tapia, the deputy director, told KGUN9 the department has about 75 waste management pickup drivers who have all continued showing up to work, ready to do their jobs.

"Our guys are really doing a great job and really stepped up, they are all showing up," said Tapia.

He added waste management pickup drivers have the ability to stay inside of the garbage truck because of their automated capabilities.

“Mostly the operators are working by themselves and are staying in the cab and everything is pretty much automated so they just drive up and they have to just pick up the container at curbside," he said.

Tapia also added there have been other changes implemented at the Los Reales Landfill.

One of the biggest changes, according to Tapia, is cash is not being accepted for the time being.

“Cash handling is a difficult situation because so many different people are touching and you don’t know who has touched the cash," he said.

Tapia said scale operators at the landfill are also taking added precautions to make sure they are as safe and healthy as possible.

“Our scale operators are wearing gloves, we have the hand sanitizer for them to use and we also installed the plexiglass on the window," he said.

Typically self-haulers weigh their vehicles with the trash or debris they're hauling, then dump it, then go back to the scale to be weighed again to determine how much they will be paying, a practice Tapia said has changed in order to minimize the amount of interaction between those self-haulers and scale operators.

“We instituted a regular rate which is 15 dollars for a pick up truck, and 25 dollars for a truck and trailer," he said.

However, he added there is one exception.

“Anything that is above 16,000 pounds we end up weighing them out because we’re just not sure how much volume or how much debris they’re bringing in," Tapia said.