Backing accidents continue to be the most frequent type of accident in the waste industry. Typically, the end result of most of these backing accidents is minor to moderate damage to a parked car or fixed object. However, when pedestrians or bicyclists are involved, there is always the potential that a backing accident can result in serious injury or even death.
Because most of them seem to result in only minor property damage claims, there are some waste companies that see backing accidents as a cost of doing business. Thus, some of these firms may not spend a great deal of time or expend much energy toward their prevention. The old adage is that “frequency breeds severity,” and the more backing mishaps a waste company has, the more likely they are to endure a serious or catastrophic accident.
The following deadly backing accidents occurred around the country within the past couple of years and should remind everyone that these accidents can result, first and foremost, in loss of life, but also large liability claims, negative publicity for a company and even criminal charges.
Arizona: A 79-year-old man was killed after being backed over by a waste collection vehicle. The helpers were further up the street at the time of the accident and the driver was using his mirrors to back the truck. The truck had a working backing alarm.
Iowa: A 45-year-old woman was fatally injured when she was backed over by a waste collection vehicle in an alley.
Pennsylvania: A helper on a collection truck was killed when he was pinned between a telephone pole and the backing truck.
California: A 54-year-old man died after being backed over by a refuse collection vehicle. The man was crossing the street when the truck backed over him.
Florida: A collection driver was cited for improper backing after he backed over his helper. The helper died from his injuries.
Ontario: The driver of a waste collection vehicle faces charges after backing over and killing an 85-year-old man in a parking lot.
Michigan: A nine-year-old boy was killed when he was backed over by a waste collection truck. The boy had followed a ball into the street, and the driver of the truck never saw him.
Ohio: A man who was legally blind was struck and killed by a backing waste collection truck. Charges were filed against the driver after it was discovered that the backing alarm (beeper) was not in working order at the time of the accident.
Bruce Hooker works for R.F. Mattei & Associates of CA Insurance Services, Sacramento, Calif.