Safety Issues



The Truck Driver

Josh was a licensed commercial truck driver and had worked for a solid waste trucking company for five years. One of his regular runs was to deliver waste from local transfer stations to a landfill that was 180 miles east. Pete was an experienced equipment operator and he operated a trash compactor at the landfill.  

The Trailer and The Trash Compactor

Josh’s semi-truck had a walking floor, an automated unloading mechanism. The landfill trash compactor was about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide and weighed about 100,000 lbs. The compactor moved at a speed of five to six miles per hour. The compactor had an audible backup alarm, a rearview mirror in the cab, and four side mirrors (two on each side). The operator’s blind spot extended from the rear of the compactor up to 35 feet behind; the operator could not see a pedestrian unless he or she stood further than 35 feet away from the rear of the vehicle.


The Incident

Josh arrived at the landfill around 2pm on the day of the incident. He was directed to an area to unload the waste. Two landfill trash compactors and a bulldozer were pushing, spreading, crushing, and compacting the waste mixed with sand in the same area. At the discharge point, Josh parked and started the walking floor to unload. Meanwhile, the two compactors were at the south side of the unloading area pushing and spreading the waste. Josh remained inside the cab until the trailer was half unloaded. He then got out of the cab to get a broom that was stored on a platform behind the cab and climbed into the trailer through a ladder between the cab and the trailer to sweep and clean the trailer while it continued unloading.


At approximately 2:20pm, the trailer was completely unloaded and swept. Josh jumped off the rear of the trailer and walked along the side of the trailer toward the cab carrying his broom. Josh was wearing an earth-tone Carhart suit; he was not wearing a high visibility orange vest. Pete was backing up the compactor next to the Josh’s trailer to get to a sand pile. Pete stated that he looked through both the back and side mirrors before backing up; he did not see Josh in his path. Josh was run over by the compactor and suffered grave injuries. He died six days later at a hospital trauma center. 

(Delivery tractor trailers unloading at landfill)



Develop a landfill traffic control plan to coordinate the movements of pedestrian workers, landfill mobile equipment, and delivery trucks.

Require all delivery drivers to remain inside the truck cab during unloading.


Install devices such as backup video monitor, electromagnetic signal or infrared detector on mobile equipment to help operators monitor the blind spots.


Require all landfill employees, delivery drivers, and all other visitors to wear high visibility safety vests while they are on landfill property.

Provide training to all delivery drivers on following landfill safety requirement.




New York State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (NY FACE)

Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention

New York State Department of Health

Corning Tower, Room 1336

Empire State Plaza

Albany, NY 12237

Ph (518) 402-7900 Fax (518) 402-7909


Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA), with major contributions from State partners funded by NIOSH through the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The goal of the FACE Program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. State partners who contribute Safety Issues postings based on recent investigative reports are California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Washington.


This month’s Safety Issues is based on an investigative report from the New York State FACE Program. The complete report “Truck Driver Run Over by Trash Compactor at Municipal Landfill” (Case Report 02NY007) including detailed case information, recommendations and discussion is available at Additional NY FACE Investigation Reports, Annual Reports, Hazard Alerts and other publications can be accessed at


The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports which are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners are presented here in their original unedited form from the states. They are intended for educational purposes only. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH.

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