SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Labor’s (IDOL) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (IL OSHA) released the results of an investigation involving the death of a sanitation worker crushed by a garbage truck in October 2022.

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The report is intended to be used as an educational resource for municipal sanitation departments and their employees.

In this incident, a sanitation worker was pinned and crushed between a garbage truck and a brick fence column. The employer was cited for violations of the Illinois Occupational Safety and Health Act, addressed the hazards, and the inspection was closed in October 2023.

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There were three contributing factors to the incident identified during the investigation:

  • The garbage truck driver didn’t receive “required” training on hand signals.
  • The victim and driver used audible signals instead of visual signals.
  • The victim and driver didn’t maintain visual contact when the truck was moving.

“Work around large moving vehicles is dangerous and unforgiving,” said IL OSHA Chief Erik Kambarian. “Vehicle drivers must maintain visual contact with anyone working nearby, and, when possible, employers should enhance driver situational awareness by equipping large vehicles with camera systems. At the end of the day, everyone should return home healthy and safe.”

To prevent a similar event from occurring in the future, it was determined the sanitation department should do the following:

  • Ensure employees are provided with employer-required training for safe operations prior to being assigned to an operational crew.
  • Provide initial and refresher training on safe operations policies, supervise crews, and implement corrective action when policies are violated.
  • Ensure that drivers and laborers on-foot maintain visual contact during vehicle movement.
  • Enhance driver visibility by using vehicle safety cameras.

Enforcement of occupational safety and health standards in Illinois is a shared responsibility between the U.S. Department of Labor (federal OSHA) and the Illinois Department of Labor (IL OSHA). IL OSHA covers all state and local government workplaces while federal OSHA, an Administration under the U.S. Department of Labor, covers all private sector workplaces.

For more information about IL OSHA, click here.

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