Town to buy trash lifter, citing safety concerns

Hoisting up trash cans has caused a rash of recurring shoulder injuries and prompted the town to make a $29,000 investment in an automated lifter.

“I was approached by members of the town’s safety committee regarding a recent trend of Workmen’s Compensation shoulder injuries in the Parks Department,” Dennis DiPinto, director of Parks and Recreation, wrote to the Board of Selectmen.

“It seems over the past two years, we have had quite a few similar significant injuries involving the same task of servicing refuse cans at our municipal properties, parks and schools.”

DiPinto’s request was supported by a personal appearance from Ed Gabbianelli, a Parks and Recreation Department worker who sits on the town safety committee.

“We’ve been averaging a couple of workmen’s comp claims a year due to that shoulder motion,” he told the selectmen.

“We pick up 55 gallon drums.” he said. “We have 100 drums and we do it twice a week.”

The proposed solution was a system that lifts trash cans and dumps them into a closed receptacle that can be mounted into the back of pickup truck.

“There’s no tarp. There’s a covered lid,” Gabbianelli said.

“...We get a lot of complaints of garbage blowing out of the back of the truck.”

Gabianelli added, on the receptacle, “It’s an item that can be used for other stuff than garbage. We can put mulch in it.”

“Why didn’t it come up before?” Selectwoman Maureen Kozlark asked. “We literally just went through the budget.“

“It came out of the safety committee,” Gabbianelli said. “...We’ve had four guys go out with shoulder injuries picking up 55 gallon drums full of garbage.”

First Selectman Rudy Marconi supported the purchase.

“When you look at the workmen’s comp and all the money spent, you’d say: ‘Why don’t we have something like this?’ ”

The selectmen approved moving the needed appropriation — $29,462 — from full-time salaries to small equipment.

“The one takeaway from this,” Marconi told fellow selectmen, “...I’m going to start asking Jake Muller of the safety committee to start submitting reports to the Board of Selectmen.”