How To Protect Yourself From Being Hurt Or Killed While Collecting Cans On The Roadside.

Posted on: 8 February 2016

Roadside aluminum can recycling is a great way to make extra money, help the environment and get much-needed exercise, all at the same time. However, this beneficial activity can also result in injury or death if you aren't careful. Pedestrian-auto collisions are an all-too-common threat, but other dangers also lurk for the can-gatherer, such as wildlife and weather activity. That's why you need to be prepared and understand how to stay safe when gathering cans. Below are a couple of key things to know:

Make visibility your number one priority

Nearly 5,000 persons were struck and killed by automobiles in the United States in 2012, and anyone venturing near a street or highway is at-risk. While a variety of factors caused these deaths, along with many thousands more injured, one of the most serious problems is lack of pedestrian visibility. That's why you owe it to yourself to make yourself visible at all times, even in broad daylight.

Fortunately, making yourself visible isn't hard; rather, it involves just a few simple changes in behavior and dress. Here is a sampling of what you can do:

  • Wear a reflective safety vest - Safety vests sewn from brightly-colored cloth with reflective tape should always be worn by can-gatherers. These vests are eye-catching, and most drivers will see you a lot sooner than they would have if you had not been wearing one. For optimal protection, wear a bright yellow-green color, as it is the most visible of all daytime color shades.

  • Set-up traffic cones - If permitted by law in your area, consider placing a traffic cone or two by the edge of the road where you are working. This will alert drivers and help keep them from straying toward the side of the road.

  • Work down-traffic from your vehicle - Whenever you drive your vehicle to a stretch of road where you intend to collect cans, park and walk down-traffic from your car. This will serve as additional warning to passing drivers of your presence ahead.

  • Work only in well-lit, dry weather conditions - Never attempt to pick up aluminum cans on rainy or icy days or after dark. These factors can be distracting or difficult for drivers, and they may not see you as a consequence.

Protect yourself from wild animals

While cars are the most threatening menace to your personal safety while collecting cans, there are other hazards that can affect your health and wellbeing. It is not uncommon to encounter a variety of wild animals near roadsides, including raccoons, skunks, snakes, birds, squirrels and a number of other species. Some of these animals can carry rabies and others, such as venomous snakes, pose a different threat. That is why you should be prepared to handle an encounter with a potentially-dangerous animal when collecting cans. Here are a few hints on how to do it:

  • Wear sturdy, leather hiking boots or other full-ankle footwear - Your shoes should be comfortable, but they also need to guard your feet and lower legs from potential bites. Athletic shoes may be lighter, but they offer little protection against an animal attack.

  • Carry a long walking stick - A long walking stick can be used to fend off an attacking animal along with other practical tasks while picking up cans.

  • Look before you reach - If you pick up cans by hand, rather than using a stick or special gear, then you must be careful when lowering your hand to the ground. First, "sweep" the area with a few swipes of your walking stick to shoo away any troublesome animals. Next, be sure to wear a pair of gloves that will protect your hands from being bitten.

For more information and safety tips, consider contacting a company that offers cans recycling, such as Main Street Fibers.