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Am I Responsible If the Roll Off Dumpster is Damaged?

As in any other area of life, if you damage someone else’s property YES YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.
We hear it every day from people who damage our roll off dumpsters, “what’s the big deal, it’s just a hole?”, or “I didn’t bend the door THAT much”, or my personal favorite “I HAD to get it all in the box”! I have been doing this for 20 years now and the look of shock on someone’s face when they realize that what they did comes with a repair bill has never changed. A few personal story about some of our “mishaps” follows the damage descriptions.

Let me preface this with the fact that we work very closely with our customers and have never had a problem that hasn’t been resolved amicably between us. As a matter of fact, one customer broke 2 of my dumpsters on 2 different occasions! Now how does one “break” a dumpster? Well, damaging the door (the latches are very precise), the locking system, punctures, ripped bars, bent walls, crushed channel steel (top rail of dumpster), all constitute “breaking” a dumpster. Let me handle each issue separately and give explanations.

Holes: Holes in the floors or walls of roll off dumpsters is NOT permitted. Dumpsters found in use with holes in them are subject to fines starting at $1500/incident. They require repair and the cost will vary depending on hole location/size.

Bent Structure (walls, door, floor): Once a wall or door is bent, the structural integrity of the container has been compromised. A simple dent in the top rail of a container can make the whole wall susceptible to further collapse as pressure and weight is applied in the future. This problem can go from mild (no fix necessary) to extensive (major repairs). If a wall is simply dented, no repair would likely be necessary, but a bowed wall could require straightening, reinforcement and bracing.

Torn Bars: The sides of roll off dumpsters often have a thin bar welded along the sides to provide a foothold for stepping on the side. Typically this is not an essential repair and would not constitute immediate repair unless it is a rail to the side ladder.

Damaged Latch/Lock: This is an immediate “Out Of Service” repair. A dumpster with a damaged locking system is both a hazard on a jobsite as well as while traveling on the highways. These repairs can range from simple to complex depending upon which parts are damaged and how they are damaged.

Bent Door: This can be a VERY expensive repair. This is usually caused by overloading the container with a machine, or hitting the door with some type of machine or vehicle.

In almost EVERY case, damage is caused when someone uses a machine to overload and crush the load into the container or someone tries to move a container with something (I’ve seen cars, trucks, tractors, excavators and HORSES!!! (I swear with my hand on a bible that is what the man said when I asked him how it got moved!)

If you are like 99.9 % of the rentals, nothing happens and everything is fine and we all move on to the next thing. BUT, nothing is 100%!

Story 1: A very good customer of mine had a 30 Yd dumpster loaded with bulk heading. That box had 9 tons of bulk heading in it and he decided to pick the dumpster up (by grabbing it with the grapple on his excavator by the wall of the dumpster) and pulling it sideways. Well, the side he pulled sure moved, problem was that the 9 tons of bulk heading and the floor of the dumpster had a different plan. They decided to stay put. That repair took 2 weeks and cost about $1500. The builders statement as he handed me the check: (chuckle) “I guess I shouldn’t have done that, huh?”

Story 2: A local marina was doing improvements to their site and they overloaded a dumpster so badly with their machine that they bent the rear door like a banana and the sides looked like a sound wave. Fortunately, they had a welding shop there at the marina and they repaired the dumpster themselves and offered a hearty apology. That repair took 1 week and since I didn’t pay for it, unknown costs to the marina.

Story 3: Let’s go to the same customer from Story 1 but 3 years later. He waffled a rear door so badly, we had to build a whole new door since the dumpster manufacturer for that particular model is no longer in business. That repair cost $3000 and the container was out of service for 1 month. His answer when I told him about the damage: “well, I really tried to get everything into that box. I guess I shouldn’t have done that, huh?” My reply: “I’m going to tattoo that on your forehead next time!”

Again, if you don’t have a machine damaging a container is very difficult. If you are using a machine, NEVER move a dumpster, and use common sense when loading it.

Be safe, be well and most of all BE HAPPY!

Dale Olander
D&D Disposal
(732) 341-6900