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Sanitation worker killed in traffic accident, raising safety concerns

SEFFNER — A sanitation worker was killed early Friday when a car pinned him to his work truck.

Frederick Solomon, 34, of Bradenton was behind the truck, tossing trash into its bin, when a 1988 Toyota driven by Lloyd Cribbs Jr. rear-ended the truck, pinning Solomon between the vehicles, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.

Solomon died at the scene on Parsons Avenue south of U.S. 92. Deputies said Cribbs, 33, of Plant City was taken to a hospital to be medically cleared.

No charges have been filed against Cribbs. Deputies are still investigating, but it doesn't appear he was speeding, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Solomon was an employee of Republic Services, one of the three waste management companies that contracts with Hillsborough County.

Republic Services operates across the country and is starting to replace its traditional trucks with automated ones that are safer, said company spokeswoman Peg Mulloy.

"It's obviously safer because the driver doesn't have to get out of the vehicle," she said.

Although it would reduce the work force, automation would improve safety in an inherently unsafe business, she said.

Refuse collection had the sixth-highest fatality rate of jobs tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008. That year, 31 trash and recyclable collectors died, statistics show. That's a rate of about 37 people for every 100,000 full-time workers.

Republic's employees know about the dangers, Mulloy said. Before each shift, a supervisor reminds workers about the importance of safety, she said.

"They talk about what could be done to prevent accidents," she said.

But in this case, Mulloy said, Solomon wasn't doing anything wrong. Carter also said there was no indication that Solomon was being reckless.

Cribbs has several incidents on his driving record. He was convicted of speeding and not wearing a seat belt in 1999, and twice convicted of speeding in 2001 — once driving 52 mph in a 35 mph zone and once for driving 79 mph in a 60 mph zone, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Although Hillsborough's trucks have yet to transition to an automated system, about 70 percent of Tampa's trucks are fully automated, said Tonja Brickhouse, the city's director of solid waste management.

She hopes to have 85 percent of the city's residents serviced by automated trucks by this spring, she said. It's more efficient, there's fewer injuries and the new bins keep out animals better, she said.

"And if the person is not getting out of the truck," she said, "you don't have the scenario you had today."

Times researcher John Martin and Times Writer Kim Wilmath contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Dangerous jobs

Occupations with the highest fatality rates (per 100,000 full-time equivalent worker) in 2008:

OccupationDeathsRate
Fishers 50128.9
Loggers 82115.7
Aircraft pilots,

flight engineers
 9072.4
Iron, steelworkers 3646.4
Farmers, ranchers31739.5
Refuse, recyclable collectors, 3136.8
Roofers 6934.4
Electrical powerline workers 3529.8
Driver/sales workers, truck drivers81522.8
Taxi drivers,

chauffeurs
 6919.3

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor

Sanitation worker killed in traffic accident, raising safety concerns 10/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2009 11:16pm]
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