Norfolk, VA: Sanitation Worker Compacted by Own Truck

A 51 year-old man was crushed to death when he climbed in the back hopper of a Heil Formula 7000 garbage truck and attempted to clear debris which was jammed, preventing a "compactor blade" from moving.

He perished when the hydraulic system engaged, and a safety mechanism which would have saved him failed.

The City of Norfolk originally said that the man had "violated a city policy" by climbing in the back of the truck.

Later, state investigators confirmed that it was "city policy" for sanitation workers to do so; otherwise, any jamming issue would necessitate leaving the trash route and returning to the maintenance shed for loosening or repair.

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry investigated this occurrence and found 8 "serious (life threatening) violations" related to this accident. For example: the safety system on the truck was supposed to be checked daily. That did not happen.

A well-spoken Norfolk councilman stated "Some heads should roll on this..."

[As reported by Harry Minium in The Virginian-Post, October 12, 2011]