Ammie Brandon, Waste Management of Alameda County's only female route manager, talks to her crew in "the yard" about the day ahead before they ship out.

But every morning that the drivers motor out of the yard, they’re embarking on a job fraught with potential dangers that extend far beyond simply navigating a truck throughout rush hour traffic. In 2011, there were 34 fatal work injuries within the profession, a study released several weeks ago by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found. After fishing and logging workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, the bureau ranks refuse and recyclable collection as having the fourth highest fatal work injury rate in the entire country.

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