- A Republic Services driver found the body of a man — identified as Brian Raber — in the back of his garbage truck while collecting trash in Fairlawn, OH early Saturday morning.
- The Summit County medical examiner ruled the man's death as accidental, finding the man was crushed in the compactor. The accident is still being investigated, but no foul play is suspected.
- Investigators believe that the man was homeless. "There's a very good possibility that he was using the dumpster for shelter," said Fairlawn Sgt. Randy Bartlett to Cleveland.com.
Someone being dumped and compacted in the back of a garbage truck — and sometimes killed — is unfortunately a common occurrence for garbage haulers. Similar accidents have happened in Allentown, PA, Chico, CA, and even earlier this month in Hot Springs, AR. A few months ago, a California man survived two cycles of compaction inside of a garbage truck before crawling out — an incident that many dubbed a miracle.
SWANA CEO David Biderman encourages garbage haulers to follow "best practices" when servicing routes, especially during hours when someone may be sleeping in a dumpster.
"Particularly in areas where homeless people are known to be present, drivers should lower the radio when dumping a container so a dumped person can be heard, and consider waiting a few seconds before compacting the load," he said via email. "Also, avoid pushing containers forward after dumping because an individual may be sleeping between the container and a wall. Of course, all containers should have appropriate warning labels and be locked where practical."
Biderman noted that this issue does not only occur in North America. "Just last week, solid waste officials in New Zealand received SWANA’s assistance addressing this concern," he said.
In December, NWRA Safety Director John Haudenshield suggested to Waste Dive that drivers look for evidence of someone in the container and shake the container to rouse a potential sleeping occupant.