Ask Angela: What should we do if there’s a dumpster fire?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Angela, this question isn’t meant to be funny, but what if we have a dumpster fire?

Thanks for asking this question – dumpster fires can and do happen. We had a customer not too long ago who had a major fire in a dumpster. Luckily, no one was hurt. But dumpster fires can be deadly, and they can definitely cause a lot of damage. In fact, Fire Engineering Magazine reported on a dumpster fire that caused an explosion at a manufacturing plant. Several firefighters were injured, and unfortunately one person died of their injuries.

To start, let’s talk about dumpster safety. Here are some basic tips for reducing dumpster fire hazard risks:

  • Never dispose of hazardous or flammable materials in a dumpster. There are better, more secure ways to dispose of these items, and we’re working on a guide for that. In the meantime, here are some items you shouldn’t throw in dumpsters.
  • Keep the area clear around the dumpster. If a fire starts outside the dumpster, you don’t want nearby materials igniting and spreading into the dumpster.
  • Post no smoking signs near the dumpster and make sure any employees or building tenants know not to throw lit cigarette butts in or near the dumpster. It only takes one carelessly tossed cigarette to start a fire.

If you do have a dumpster fire, don’t try to extinguish it yourself – call 911. If your dumpster has a hinged lid and you’re able to safely close it, go ahead and close it to help prevent the fire from spreading. Don’t endanger yourself or others, though.  

If the lid is already closed, but you know a fire is burning inside, do not open the lid! Leave it closed and wait for firefighters. Opening the lid could create a backdraft, which would be far more dangerous.

Dumpster fires almost always destroy the dumpster – the lid may melt off if it’s plastic, and any paint or decals will likely be destroyed. The dumpster itself may warp. If any of these things happen, and it’s a rental, contact the rental company after the fire is safely extinguished.

Safety is the first priority during a dumpster fire. After that, there will more than likely be a fire investigation and depending on the circumstances, you may end up owing damages.

The best advice – and this is true for all aspects of life – is to avoid dumpster fires to begin with.

Have you ever had a dumpster fire, or do you have tips for preventing them? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts. 

5 Benefits of Storage Containers

When a storm threatens a jobsite, or you’re concerned about potential theft, what’s the safest way to protect your tools and materials? Some contractors think they can save a few dollars and build a temporary structure for storing items overnight. If you’ve installed security cameras and there’s fencing around the site, why bother renting a storage container? That kind of thinking could cost you thousands with one break-in or damaging hailstorm. Rent one or more Storage containers to organize and protect your site.

Benefits of storage containers

Most storage containers are converted cargo containers. Because they’re built to withstand the rigors of sea and train travel, they’re extremely durable and able to withstand wet conditions. There are some considerations when deciding where to install storage containers on a jobsite, but they’re an easy way to organize and protect materials.

Water resistant

Storage containers are designed to safely carry goods on ships and trains, so they’re built to withstand splashing water and storms. It’s advisable to install storage containers on a dry, level surface, perhaps even on a riser if the jobsite is prone to flooding, but they can withstand snow, sleet and hailstorms.

Wind protection

Worried about storm damage to materials or potential water leakage? Storage containers can provide protection. They aren’t airtight, but they can protect construction materials and tools from high winds and rain. Makeshift sheds and storage bins can blow over or fall apart when a storm comes through. But containers are strong enough to withstand rough weather.

Control pests 

Construction sites can be a hotspot for rodents and insects, including mice, spiders and wasps. Wildlife experts say rodent control starts on the construction site. When construction starts, the piles of tools, machinery and building materials provide a place for rodents to hide – especially if the project is large and ongoing. Storage containers can help prevent infestations on site.

Customized solutions

Storage containers can be customized to meet the demands of your worksite. Standard 20- or 40-foot containers are useful for general storage, and they create a central location for tools and materials. They can also be outfitted with shelving and lighting to keep materials organized and accessible, even before dawn or at night. Windows and doors can be added, and they can be climate controlled or plumbed to provide office space or worker break rooms. Ask your provider about custom solutions available in your area.  

Security

Cameras have become standard on jobsites, but a security camera and temporary fencing aren’t enough to stop intrepid thieves. Particularly on jobs where copper wiring and other high-value materials are used. Construction theft costs the industry hundreds of millions per year. Thieves can’t steal what they can’t see, and a locked security container provides extra protection. An internal security camera adds additional protection for high-theft items.  

Storage containers are essential on construction jobsites. Whether you just need space to store tools or you’re looking for a climate-controlled office, we can help you find the right storage solution for your site.    

Top 5 blog posts of 2020

As we leave 2020 behind, let’s take a look at the top blog posts of the year. From planning outdoor weddings to implementing the latest dumpster camera technology, here are the articles people visited most this year.

How many toilets does it take?   

The most-visited blog post in 2020 was our run-down on OSHA Rules for Construction Portable Toilets. It may or may not have been related to an increased need for handwashing stations this year, but we definitely saw more portable toilet and handwashing station rentals in 2020. Back in the spring, there was a waiting list for handwashing stations, which led to some creative trailer conversions. There are plenty in stock now, so give us a call if you need additional portable toilets and handwashing stations in 2021.

Keep an eye on your waste costs. 

Next up was our post: New dumpster camera technology for better waste management. Our commercial waste team implemented Compology camera tech in our dumpsters this year, which led to more efficient service schedules. To learn more about how our camera tech helped customers right-size their waste during COVID-19, check out Dan Studer’s article in FMJ magazine.

Create a memorable outdoor wedding.

For the second year running, our article on planning an outdoor wedding was in the top five. With many people converting their indoor wedding to an outdoor one this year, it’s no surprise our article on portable toilets for outdoor weddings continues to get a lot of page views. We also featured outdoor wedding planning in a recent Ask Angela post.

How do you clean up after a storm or disaster?

This year had no shortage of fires, hurricanes, and events that required massive clean-up efforts. The most-viewed blog post from our resident waste expert was Ask Angela: How to clean up after a storm, fire or disaster. Many people don’t know where or how to dispose of storm or fire debris, and sometimes local rules can be confusing. We helped a lot of people coordinate cleanup efforts nationwide in 2020. This post features Angela’s top advice for anyone facing a reconstruction project.

Don’t get stuck with hidden fees.

Rounding out the top five is Top 10 dumpster hidden rental fees. One of our core missions is to provide fair, transparent pricing to our customers. This is because we know hidden rental fees can eat into a project’s budget and create unwanted surprises when an invoice arrives. In this post, we uncover the most common hidden fees and how to avoid them. When you’re ready to bundle your site services into one package with transparent pricing, give us a call. We’ve been helping people streamline their service rentals for more than ten years.

Ask Angela: How does ZTERS decide which waste haulers to use?

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

This is a great question because it’s one people are often curious about. You might already know, ZTERS is essentially a waste broker, which means we work with haulers all over the country to schedule the right services for our construction and event customers. Our network of local haulers is pretty extensive, especially because we’ve been doing this for more than a decade.

One thing we like to mention is what sets us apart in the industry. We’re a family-run company and we work personally with a lot of local, small businesses as well as major regional and nationwide haulers. We develop relationships with all kinds of businesses to make sure they’re top-quality servicers. In fact, we even have a team dedicated to our hauler relationships. We want everyone to be successful and have a positive experience.

Having said that, there is a method to the madness. We’ve developed a proprietary ranking system over the years that measures things like reliability, service quality, and pricing. Being the cheapest is not always the best, especially if reliability is a problem! We strive to make sure all our customers get the best service possible, so we work with waste haulers who provide consistently reliable deliveries and maintenance. And we’ve gotten to know many of our haulers as friends!

Ultimately, our goal is to make sure everyone wins – from great service to ongoing business relationships. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

As we’ve grown over the years, so has our network. We’re coming up on almost 15,000 vendors in our hauler network, and that number continues to grow. Being in business this long, and with this size of a network, we know where to go when a challenging request comes in. We know who to call when there’s a storm-related shortage, or when a last-minute delivery request comes in, or even when a customer needs service in a remote area.

I hope that answers your question! The bottom line is we look at many factors, and we’ve developed a data-based system, to find the most reliable waste haulers nationwide. If you have other questions, or if you want to know “how the sausage is made,” drop us a line through social media or email. Thanks for your question!

Should you order storage containers early in the fall?

Every year the holiday season launches a festive time. The temperatures drop, pumpkin spice is everywhere (and in everything), pumpkin patches and tree lots pop up in the parking lots of retail centers, and holiday layaway plans kick into gear at big-box stores. If you’re running a construction site, you may not know about the seasonal demand for storage containers, portable toilets, and temporary fencing. So, do you need to order storage containers early in the fall?

What’s so special about fall?

Online shopping may be the go-to solution for buying things nowadays, but layaway is still a popular option during the holidays. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and even grocery stores need a place to store all the layaway purchases and extra holiday merchandise – and they rent storage containers to create that extra space.

As we get deeper into the season, you know who else needs storage containers? Tree lots. They also need to rent a lot of fencing, portable toilets, and office trailers. Construction companies that operate through fall and winter end up competing with retailers and even community groups for temporary storage. Make sure to call as early as possible for the best selection.

When to order storage containers

Do you operate in a rural area where you don’t have many retailers or tree lots? It’s still a good idea to get your order in early. Big-box retailers and grocery superstores usually start placing their storage container orders in August. If you wait until September or October, you may find yourself on a wait list or having to pay extra to bring in containers from other areas.

If an unexpected project comes up, or if you aren’t able to order a container that early, there’s a good chance you can still find one in a neighboring area. However, expect to see travel fees or delivery wait times tacked onto your rental.

What’s the best solution for renting storage containers at the end of the year? Call and schedule as early as you can. Even if you can only call a few days in advance, at least there’s time to find a nearby container before your job starts.

We hear from customers every year who are surprised to find out storage containers in their area are booked all the way from pumpkin season to the day-after-Christmas shopping frenzy. But it’s a reality.

Give us a call when you need site services in the fall – or any time of the year. We do the legwork and find solutions, so you don’t have to.

washing hands

The do’s and don’ts of hand washing stations

Hand washing has been a hot topic in 2020 (for obvious reasons). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has had hand washing facility requirements in place for decades. But there are updated recommendations when preparing workplaces, retail locations (especially pharmacies), and construction sites for workers in light of COVID-19. If you run a construction site, or you’re managing a location where people have to gather, here are some do’s and don’ts of hand washing stations that you may not have considered.

Do: Set up adequate hand washing stations

Pharmacies were among the first businesses that had to consider installing additional hand washing stations. People stop by to pick up prescriptions, and they often stand in waiting areas. Most often they’re sick or have a compromised immune system. There is also the fact pharmacy employees are coming into contact with people who may be sick.

Many retail locations, as well as construction sites, have installed standalone hand washing stations or hand sanitizing stations. Aim to provide a station for every 10-12 people who work in the area.

Do: Keep units in a climate-controlled area

When temperatures drop in winter, you don’t want hand washing stations freezing up. In order to function, they need to be somewhat climate controlled. If the worksite isn’t enclosed, or if there isn’t an enclosed area nearby to accommodate hand washing stations, consider placing it in a storage container with open doors on either end. Or create a temporary enclosure that protects the unit from wind, snow, and freezing temperatures.

Don’t: Place units far away from service entrances

For retail facilities or enclosed worksites, place hand washing stations near a docking area or fire exit. Service trucks will have to access the units, and service technicians need to easily get to the unit without having to remove it completely. Keeping units indoors near a docking area or major exit also makes things convenient for employees and guests who need to use the stations.

Don’t: Skip the station if you can’t find one

When the 2020 pandemic was at its height, the wait-list for hand washing stations was weeks or even months in most places. Hand wash station manufacturers went into overdrive to produce more units to meet demand. If you ever find it difficult to locate a hand wash station or hand sanitizer dispenser, don’t go without. Get creative and see if you can rig something up. Some of our clients reported converting small food truck trailers into hand washing stations. The University of New Mexico even has an example of how to create a small hand washing station for farm workers (although they could work at any outdoor location).

The old rule of thumb used to be one hand washing station for every 20 employees on a jobsite. To encourage more hand washing, it may be better to lower that ratio down to 10 or 12. No matter how many units you need for your location, we can help you get them scheduled and serviced. Give us a call if you need to add hand wash stations to your jobsite.

Ask Angela: Helping crew members feel safe after the shutdown

Angela Phillips is a Senior Account Manager III at ZTERS Waste Solutions. She helps customers with some of their most challenging site service issues, and she answers your questions here on our website.

Dear Angela, Now that work is ramping back up from the Covid-19 shutdown, how can we help our crew members feel safe being back on the worksite?

This is a great question that a lot of people are asking right now. We know many construction sites continued operation throughout the shutdown because construction is considered an essential business in many places. However, we’re also seeing areas that were previously shut down now slowly starting to resume projects. Every state is different, and we’ve seen a wide range of experiences with our customers.

Like most businesses, we keep a close eye on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they have a Community Mitigation Framework with guidelines around protecting workers and the public in general when congregating at work or in public places. This includes things like practicing social distancing of at least six feet, hand washing regularly, sanitizing areas more frequently, and wearing masks where appropriate.

On a construction site, some of these things can be more difficult—sometimes two-person lifting means you have to stand closer than six feet! However, there are still protections we’re seeing our customers and vendors implement.

For one, portable toilets and common areas like mobile offices are being disinfected more frequently and many jobsites are ordering extra handwashing stations to make sure people can wash their hands more frequently.

We also see a lot of safety managers recommending crew members practice social distancing as much as possible and wear a mask when it doesn’t affect the safety of the work you’re doing. We also see some sites requiring crew members to take their temperature before starting work.

The Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America put out a series of guidelines around worker safety in a post-COVID-19 world. They have social distancing recommendations specifically for construction sites. This includes a “no congregation” rule and not allowing food trucks on worksites. This may mean having safety meetings in smaller groups and asking crew members to bring their own lunch and space themselves further than six feet apart when they eat.  

It’s a good idea to check with your local regulatory agencies to find out if there are any special requirements in your area.

There will definitely be an adjustment period to these new rules. We recommend our customers use resources like these to come up with a written safety plan and communicate it to crew members. Having a written plan and following safety guidelines will go a long way toward protecting crew members and helping people feel safe being back on the jobsite.

We know there have been a lot of delays and back orders when it comes to handwashing stations, so give us a call to find out what’s available in your area and how to get more coverage on your site.

Temporary office trailers: What to know before you rent

Temporary office trailers serve many functions. From construction companies to schools undergoing renovations, mobile office trailers are used in many industries to provide essential space for performing essential duties on a jobsite. Renting a temporary office trailer isn’t complicated, but here’s what you need to know before you rent. Asking these questions will help you avoid wasting money on a trailer that doesn’t fit your needs.   

How will you use the temporary office trailer?

Before you get started, ask yourself the basics. How big should the trailer be? What capabilities should the trailer have? Office trailers are used to provide onsite office space for people who need a desk and a comfortable chair to sit in. They may have electricity, but little else. That may be all you need for your jobsite.

However, larger office trailers can be ordered that offer amenities like a restroom, more than one office space, closet space or a small kitchen. Before you decide whether these functions are needed, you should first decide what your organization will do in the office.

Ask your team:

  • Who will use the office space?
  • How many people will need to use it at the same time?
  • How many pieces of furniture must fit in the office?
  • Will the space need to be large enough for meetings or gatherings?

Where will the office trailer go?

To answer this question, consider factors like foot traffic, vehicle traffic and work activity on the site. Place the office in a location where it will be out of the way of vehicles and employees, but convenient for the people who need to access it. Other factors to consider include noise and accessibility. Noise in the environment around the office may make working inside the office difficult. In addition, if the office is not properly accessible, then it defeats the purpose of having an office onsite. 

What are the delivery requirements?

The rental company may require someone to be on site when the mobile office is delivered. They may also need special access to the site, and the road leading to the site should be adequately wide and in good condition. Find out what requirements must be fulfilled to make the delivery and ensure you can provide those conditions when it’s time to receive the unit.  

Need storage space?

Some mobile office models provide office space and storage space. Businesses like construction companies often need both, so find out if you’ll need additional storage units along with an office. Work with project managers, foremen and other site supervisors to decide whether the jobsite needs storage containers in addition to an office. There are also storage container/mobile office container combos that are economical for small construction jobs where space is needed for both purposes.  

Are permits required?

Many communities require permits for temporary mobile offices. Before you can install a mobile office, even if the office space is only meant to be temporary, contact your local city hall or permitting office to find out what permits are required in your area. The permitting office may have height or size requirements that must be considered before the office can be installed, so contact them about permits before ordering an office with a rental company. 

Whether you have a small renovation or a major new-build construction site, we’ve been helping project managers order temporary offices for more than a decade. Let us help you get a mobile office trailer set up on your next worksite.

Top 5 ZTERS Waste Posts of 2019

As 2020 rises on the horizon, let’s take a look back at the top five ZTERS Waste Solutions blog posts of 2019. Perhaps not surprisingly, our Ask Angela columns were some of the most viewed pages. Do you have waste solution questions? Reach out through our Facebook or LinkedIn pages and ask your most pressing question!

#5 (tie): Temporary Fence Rentals

Number five on the list was a tie, but both posts were about temporary fence rentals. Lots of people were interested in their fencing rental options in 2019.

Ask Angela: Do I really need temporary fencing on my construction worksite?

What to know about the types of temporary fence rentals

#4: Commercial Waste Service

Did you know ZTERS has a commercial waste division that services facilities like warehouses, retail, restaurants, multifamily, and industrial spaces? We had a fair number of site visitors looking for commercial waste solutions. If you manage a real estate portfolio, we have custom solutions to streamline your waste and recycling.

Commercial waste services: expectation vs. reality

#3: Dumpster Rental Fees

Not surprisingly, we had a lot of interest in our post on hidden fees. So many customers call us because they got hit with tons of extra fees when they booked dumpsters with other companies. Our pricing is always upfront, and we won’t stick you with hidden fees.

Top 10 dumpster hidden fees

#2: The ZTERS + PlanGrid Integration

Considering we only launched this integration in November, it’s incredible we had so many visits to the post announcing this new tool. PlanGrid is the number one project management software for construction professionals, and our new integration means they can order temporary service rentals right from their dashboard. If you’re a PlanGrid user, you need to check it out!

Temporary construction rentals streamlined with new ZTERS + PlanGrid integration

And the #1 ZTERS Waste Post…

Planning an outdoor wedding: Here are your toilet options

With so many outdoor weddings hosted each year, it’s probably not surprising that our number one blog post (by a lot!) was our post on wedding toilet options. If you’ve got a wedding or outdoor event coming up in 2020, call us to schedule your portable toilets. We also help with dumpsters, temporary fencing, and storage containers if you need those services.

roll-off container

What Kind of Roll-off Container Rental Do You Need?

You may not realize you have choices when it comes to roll-off container rentals. Most people think they have to go with a regular steel roll-off dumpster, but there are other options available. Depending on your worksite and the type of debris you need to haul, there are several styles to choose from. Here are five kinds of roll-off rentals to consider for your next project.

Roll-off container rentals for solid waste

Most people are dealing with solid waste. That is, waste that has no detrimental impact on the water table or the general environment and human health. Things like standard construction debris (with no possibility of lead contamination) and grease trap waste fall into this category. So, solid waste doesn’t necessarily have to be “solid.” Liquids like sludge and septic waste are also classified as solid waste.

Standard roll-off containers

Rectangular roll-off containers are what most people think of when they’re looking for a roll-off rental. These metal containers are available in light, medium, and heavy-duty grades. If you have light debris, such as a small renovation or clean out, the light grade roll-off should be enough for you. Standard construction debris is heavier and sharp enough that you’d probably want a medium-duty roll-off. And the heavy-duty containers are typically reserved for scrap yards and other industrial uses where the container needs to last a long time under extreme conditions.

Tub containers

As the name implies, these roll-off containers are shaped more like tubs. They have tapered, smooth sides, which makes them easy to dump, and you can customize them with vinyl decals if you need to. Just like standard roll-offs, these are available in light, medium, and heavy-duty grades. These are most often used for recycling materials and scrap collection.

Sealed containers

If you’re dealing with wet solid waste, you’re going to need a sealed container. These are actually a subset of standard and tub containers, because they’re built to the same specifications but they’re able to securely hold liquid. The sludge containers are built to a heavier duty standard, while sealed containers fall into the light or medium-duty category. Because the seams and hinges are sealed on these containers, they’re more secure than standard roll-offs. This makes them good for more than just liquid waste disposal. If you need a secure container with sealed seams—for any reason—look into sealed and sludge containers.

Dewatering containers

You’ll know if you need a dewatering container. These containers are built with special baskets that separate solids from liquids. As you pour waste into the container the solids are kept inside the basket while the liquid drains out and can be disposed of separately. The main benefit is to reduce weight and save on disposal fees, but they can also used for filtration.

Recyclers

While recycling can go into standard or tub-style containers, there are custom recycling containers with internal dividers. This style is used most frequently in areas where recycling is mandatory, however, they are also used on any site where materials are separated for recycling or re-selling. 

Roll-off containers for hazardous waste

Hazardous waste requires special handling because it’s detrimental to the environment and to people exposed to it. There are different container options for different types of hazardous waste, including a version of sealed and sludge containers and specialty containers developed for specific types of waste. Because these are so specialized, it’s best to speak with someone who knows the industry and can help recommend the right container. We help with all kinds of waste, including hazardous.

Give us a call if you have questions about roll-offs for your project. We’ll help you find the right type of rental for your worksite. And want to bundle your site services in one package? We also schedule portable toilets, temporary fencing, storage containers, and mobile offices. Everything you need in one phone call.