- the incident occurred at about 3:30 pm
- according to Lewisville police, “a resident with an F-350 pickup and dual-axle trailer had brought in a load of demolition debris to dump. Dodd was directing the driver as he backed the trailer up in the dumping area”
- ”a handle protruding from the trailer became entangled in Dodd’s clothing, causing Dodd to be pulled down. The 9,000 pound trailer drove over Dodd’s chest.”
Federal and State OSHA inspectors are not strangers at Waste Management facilities. Using OSHA’s on-line database I identified dozens and dozens of inspections at Waste Management (NYSE: WM) facilities in recent years. One current inspection stems from a fatality that occurred in March 2016 at a WM facility in Philadelphia. A worker was crushed when a ton of recycled paper collapsed onto him.
WM has “the largest network of recycling facilities, transfer stations and landfills in the industry.” It has 50,000 employees and 25,000 trucks. The firm’s safety policy is called Mission to Zero (M2Z). WM says that means:
“…zero tolerance for unsafe actions, unsafe decisions, unsafe conditions, unsafe equipment and unsafe attitudes.”
I’ll wait and see with how that slogan jives with the findings from OSHA’s inspections of these two most recent fatalities at WM operations.
Worker fatalities and serious injuries in the solid waste industry are not uncommon. It didn’t take me but a few minutes to find these:
- An incident in May in West Irvine, KY, that claimed the life of Walter Jackson, 56;
- Another incident in May, this one in Syracuse, NY, that took the life of Joseph Correia, 58;
- One in April in Rockford, IL, that killed Gonzalo Trevino, 54;
- Another incident in April, this one in San Antonio, TX, that took the life of Benjamin Garza, 26;
- One in March in Baltimore that killed James Tyler, 61;
- Another one in March, this one in Ridley Park, PA, that took the life of a worker whose name I have not been able to locate;
- One in February in Waterloo, NY, that killed James L. Corter, 55;
The report released last year, “Sustainable and safe recycling: Protecting workers who protect the planet,” describes the myriad ways in which workers are hurt or fatally injured in the solid waste industry. One or more of those ways contributed to the death this month of Emilio Dodd in Lewisville, TX. OSHA’s Fort Worth office is likely conducting a post-fatality inspection at the facility.
The AFL-CIO’s 2016 Death on the Job report notes:
- OSHA has 91 inspectors in Texas to cover more than 620,000 workplaces.
- With that number of inspectors, it would take 159 years for OSHA to inspect each Texas workplace just once.
- The average penalty for a serious violation in Texas is $2,098.
- The median penalty amount for a work-related fatality occurring in Texas is $8,000.
OSHA has until early March 2017 to issue any citations and penalties related to the incident that stole the life of Emilio Dodd.
When the local press initially reported Mr. Dodd’s death, they called it an accident. An “accident” suggests the circumstances were unforeseen or could not have been avoided. I predict OSHA’s findings will tell a different story. Common sense steps could have been taken and safety regulations followed to prevent Mr. Dodd’s death. It was no “accident.”