A cyclist in Bushwick, Brooklyn was struck in a hit-and-run accident by a private garbage truck on Wednesday night, August 1, 2018.
The woman, 25, was in the bike lane on Evergreen Avenue near Grove Street in Bushwick when the accident occurred. The garbage truck struck her but continued to drive and was later found by police at its sanitation garage in East Williamsburg, where it had been returned. Police are investigating whether the driver was aware that he had struck the woman or not.
One witness said that the woman’s left arm was nearly severed in the accident. “She was just laying in the bike lane, not really moving,” the witness told the NY Post. The cyclist was taken to Brookdale Hospital in critical condition, where she has since been stabilized.
We wish the best to the victim and her family during this trying time. This incident should have been preventable, and it highlights the urgent need for reform to the New York City private sanitation industry.
As we first wrote about back in June, the world of private garbage disposal in New York City has a disturbingly bad safety record. In 2017 alone, commercial garbage trucks across the five boroughs killed 7 people. Municipal Department of Sanitation garbage trucks, however have not caused a fatality since 2014.
Why is the safety record of the New York private garbage industry so much worse than city-run Department of Sanitation trucks? While the specifics of each company and the circumstances surrounding an accident vary, a few broad themes have emerged:
- Overly-long working shifts. Commercial sanitation workers in New York City reported working anywhere from 9 to 19.5 hours, with shifts regularly extending beyond 12 hours, according to a report for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that property-carrying commercial drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours on a work shift, however.
- Inadequate safety and driving equipment. Commercial sanitation workers are often working with subpar equipment, including both their trucks and their safety equipment. 91% of workers interviewed by NYCOSH reported that their employer did not provide them with any safety equipment. Meanwhile, when garbage trucks from New York City’s 50 biggest companies were pulled off the road and inspected, 53% were declared unsafe to drive-more than twice the national average, according to ProPublica.
- No safety training. 93% of the private sanitation workers surveyed by NYCOSH did not receive any health or safety training from their employer. In contrast, new employees of the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) are required to complete a four-week training period before they are allowed to drive a garbage truck, according to this NY Times article.
Until meaningful reform can be implemented regarding the substandard way New York City commercial sanitation companies operate, preventable accidents, injuries and even deaths will continue. This has been an industry “riddled with risk, crime and corruption for decades,” as noted journalist Errol Louis wrote, and until this is addressed, innocent New Yorkers are unfortunately going to suffer the consequences.
If you have been in an accident due to the negligence of a garbage truck, the personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy can help. Our lawyers have a proven track record of litigating motor vehicle accidents across New York State. In one Manhattan garbage truck case, a woman was in the bike lane when she was struck by a garbage truck, and our attorneys won her a $3,000,000 settlement.
If you have been injured due to somebody else’s negligence, you deserve justice and compensation for your injuries. Just call 212-736-5300 to receive a free legal consultation.