Earlier this year, a Laurel, Maryland Department of Public Works employee was killed by a driver of an SUV. The 30-year-old employee was loading garbage into a garbage truck when the SUV slammed directly into him, according to the Washington Post. He had been at the back of the bright yellow garbage truck, which was stopped in the road, when the driver hit him, colliding with the truck as well. The SUV had swerved into another car, which was mostly undamaged, before hitting the employee and the garbage truck. Law enforcement are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened. One likely scenario is that the SUV driver went into the oncoming lane of traffic to make a dangerous pass of the garbage truck and had to swerve back because of an oncoming car. While the driver is most certainly at fault for causing this collision, the employee, who had been working with the Department of Public Works since 2005, and his family will suffer the tragic consequences. In this sort of incident, where a third party is responsible for causing a serious injury or death to the employee, the employee or the employee’s family may sue that third party while also collecting workers’ compensation. This process is difficult and complicated, and the employer’s insurance company will assert a lien against the lawsuit, which requires that the employee or his/her family pay back at least part of the workers’ compensation benefits.
How Sanitation Fatalities and Injuries Occur
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 1980 to 1992, a total of 450 sanitation workers were killed during refuse collection. The majority (67 percent) of these fatalities were vehicle-related. Roughly one third of these vehicle-related fatalities were due to the worker slipping and falling from a refuse vehicle, getting run over or hit by another vehicle as in the tragic example above, or falling from and then getting hit by the refuse collection vehicle itself. Sanitation is a dangerous job, even when no other vehicles are present. The danger is only amplified when impatient drivers speed through blind corners or try to make unsafe passes.
Standards for Mobile Refuse Safety
A long while back, the American National Standards Institute published Safety Standards for Mobile Refuse Collection and Compaction Equipment. These requirements included:
- Only riding on specifically designed steps or inside the cab while the truck is moving;
- Remaining inside the cab until the truck comes to a complete stop;
- When the truck is going 10 miles per hour or faster, travelling 0.2 miles or further, or backing up, no worker should be riding on the steps; and
- Ensuring that workers never ride on the loading sills or in hoppers.
While these and other safety protocol help save lives, an employee may knowingly violate any safety measure and still be eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation works on a no-fault system, meaning that injured or killed employees will receive benefits whether they were at fault or not.
Call Workers’ Compensation Attorney Tara K. Frame Today
We strongly encourage you to call the Pasadena, Maryland workers’ compensation attorneys of Frame & Frame today at 410-255-0373 if you were injured on the job, no matter the type of injury and no matter the cause. We are eager to help you with your case.