New York City Department of Sanitation Braves Unknowns to Keep City Safe, Clean During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Wed June 24, 2020 - Northeast Edition
Mack Trucks



The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), like the city it serves, truly is a department that never sleeps, as evidenced by the extreme circumstances it has had to manage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Refuse and recycling collection has continued, though possibly at different times on different days, and despite a number of DSNY employees getting sick through the spring. Couple that with the challenges of sanitizing 6,500 trucks before and after each shift and the temporary closure of DSNY garages for sanitization, and the efforts are even more extraordinary.

"New York City is ground zero for COVID-19, and DSNY is the world's largest sanitation department, collecting more than 12,000 tons of refuse and recyclables each day," said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president, North American sales and marketing.

"The sheer magnitude of the refuse and recycling volume is impressive on any day, but even more so now. Mack commends DSNY for their dedication realizing the difficulties they had to manage through to keep day-to-day operations moving smoothly."

Mack trucks make up the vast majority of the DSNY's heavy-duty fleet, which includes everything from refuse and recycling collection to snow removal.

While a number of DSNY employees have tested positive for the virus, thankfully, most have already recovered and returned to work. Unfortunately, DSNY is mourning the loss of 14 employees who died from COVID-19 or presumed COVID-19 complications.

"This is unlike anything we've ever dealt with before,' said DSNY Deputy Commissioner Rocco DiRico. "We've had blizzards, hurricanes like Sandy and 9/11, but this is an invisible threat. I personally want to thank our employees for their dedication during this time of crisis. The DSNY team really impressed me with the way they stepped up to the plate. I also want to extend my deepest condolences to the families of our teammates who have passed away from the virus."

DSNY operates 59 garages, all of which have closed for a deep cleaning at some point during the pandemic as a result of someone at the garage testing positive. DiRico said every garage in the city has been closed at some point, and some have closed more than once. This, too, presented challenges.

"Interruptions have happened, but we were able to work through it," said Salvatore Ceraulo, DSNY Bureau Operations chief. "The pandemic resulted in minimal collection delays, especially when garages were closed for cleaning, but residents have been patient and cooperated, and we thank them for that."

COVID-19 created a need for DSNY to implement multiple safety measures to ensure the safety of its employees, while also keeping New York City streets clean for citizens. DSNY is now operating three shifts a day, with most of the refuse and recycling collection occurring at night or in the early morning hours to promote social distancing.

Employees already wear gloves and are encouraged to wear face coverings when social distancing is not an option. Each truck is cleaned before and after each shift. Garages are cleaned by staff three times a day, seven days a week.

"Our employees understand the importance of keeping the city clean and safe, even when the risks are unknown," DiRico said. "I couldn't be more proud of how they've stepped up."

For more information, visit www.macktrucks.com.

This story also appears on Truck and Trailer Guide.