In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, many of us have started working from home.

Thanks to technology, we're able stay connected while working remotely.

But not everyone is as fortunate.

Many work in essential jobs that can't be performed from home, and this includes dozens of SWACO employees working to keep the Franklin County Sanitary Landfill open and operational.

SWACO is the government entity tasked with operating the landfill and reducing the community's reliance on it by promoting recycling, composting and other waste-diversion programs.

As stewards of the landfill, we work with local communities, waste-haulers and material-recovery facilities to ensure the safe and timely pickup and disposal of garbage and recyclables.

Collecting residential and business waste and running the landfill are among the many services being provided by the everyday heroes in our community. They're necessary to maintain the health and wellness of our community, but their work is even more essential during the pandemic.

We recognize the risk our workers face, and we have taken steps to protect them.

As many of you are doing at home, we routinely are monitoring local, state and national health organizations and following their recommended protocols for personal care, social distancing and workplace safety.

We have canceled landfill tours to minimize employees' contact with the public.

We're encouraging social distancing as much as possible at the landfill and transfer stations and have established additional break and lunch areas to provide the necessary 6-foot separation. We're washing and cleaning our trucks regularly.

We are communicating with our employees about ways to protect themselves.

And although our employees always have access to protective equipment like gloves and eyewear, they'll continue to wear these items throughout this crisis.

The public can help minimize the risks for these workers by doing a few things:

* Bag all trash. This will help reduce workers' exposure to items like used tissues, disinfecting wipes and other personal-hygiene products that could carry the virus.

* Use soap and water or alcohol-based cleaning products to wash the handles and lids of your trash and recycling carts. Many routes are automated, but workers still have to touch plenty of carts. We appreciate anything you can do to reduce transmission of the virus.

* Don't bag recyclables. Unlike garbage, recyclable items should never be bagged. Plastic bags get tangled in the sorting equipment, causing jams and costly delays. Recycling the correct way will make it easier for workers to do their jobs during this difficult time. Go To recycleright.org for more information.

With the number of people isolating themselves at home, we expect that the landfill will receive a higher-than-usual amount of material. That means our teams, along with our public and private waste- and recycling-hauling teams, will work harder than before.

Small signs of gratitude, like a thank-you note posted to a garbage or recycling container and shared on social media with #TrashCanSalute, will let these workers know they're appreciated.

We're committed to providing the safe and timely disposal of our community's waste and to keeping the landfill open for the benefit of everyone in central Ohio.

Ty Marsh is executive director of SWACO. Questions about its operations can be directed to him at questions@swaco.org. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Community News.