Refuse removers collect refuse on designated routes according to predetermined schedules. They collect refuse in bags and dump the bags onto trucks.
Refuse removers inspect their trucks prior to beginning routes to ensure safe operating condition, check road or weather conditions to determine how the routes might be affected, and drive, following established routes, through residential streets or alleys or through business or industrial areas. They dismount the garbage trucks to collect garbage and remount the trucks to ride to the next collection point. They operate automated or semi-automated hoisting devices that raise the refuse bins and dump the contents into openings in the truck bodies, then drive to disposal sites to empty the trucks that have been filled. They communicate with dispatchers concerning delays, unsafe sites, accidents, equipment breakdown or other maintenance problems and fill out defective equipment reports.
Other tasks are to organise schedules for refuse collection, provide quotes for refuse collection contracts, refuel the trucks or add oil or brake fluid, operate the equipment that compresses collected refuse, sort items set out for recycling and throw materials into the designated truck compartments, and to clean the trucks or compactor bodies after routes have been completed. They may need to make special pickups of recyclable materials, such as food scraps, used oil, discarded computers or other electronic items.
It is important that refuse be removed according to schedule, therefore refuse removers have to perform the work regardless of the weather.
Refuse removers are usually supplied with some protective clothing, such as overalls, gum boots and gloves.