Omaha, NE.—A man walking his dog is run over and killed.
Several people in several other accidents are injured.
That’s just part of the recent safety scorecard surrounding the garbage company that will be picking up Omaha’s trash if Mayor Jean Stothert gets her way.
An investigation by News Channel Nebraska (see video below) has uncovered serious safety concerns involving FCC Environmental Services; a Texas based firm with operations in Florida where a dozen of its trucks were involved in crashes the last two years.
The numbers came as a surprise to City Council President Ben Gray.
NCN’s Joe Jordan: The dozen number bothers you.
Ben Gray: A dozen in two years that should bother anybody. A dozen in two years many of them where there were injuries. One was a death. I think we should be concerned about that. I think we at least need to ask questions about it.
According to federal safety records and published reports examined by News Channel Nebraska, the most serious incident occurred in 2017, five days before Christmas, when a garbage truck backed over a 73-year-old man who died while his neighbor tried to comfort him.
“It looks like this gentleman was crossing the road with his dog,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes told an Orlando TV station. “The law requires the driver that’s backing up to make sure he does so in a safe manner, and in this case, he did not,” said Montes.
It appears the driver was not criminally charged but a federal crash report, which says the driver was ticketed, describes dry roads and “no adverse (weather) conditions” when the 26,000 pound truck rolled over Jim Lear.
Dan Brazil, a spokesman for FCC, tells News Channel Nebraska, “The fatality that occurred in Florida is still under investigation and we cannot comment at this time.”
Brazil added, “We operate more than 12,000 collection vehicles across four continents with industry leading safety.” (See the company’s full statement below).
Just a month before the deadly accident, in the same neighborhood, another FCC Environmental trash truck hit a parked utilities truck, where a workman in the truck’s bucket fell and was taken to the hospital in serious condition, according to federal records and local news media reports.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safety Measurement System, also notes 10 other FCC crashes in two Florida counties where the company has 96 garbage trucks and employs 93 drivers.
Those 10 accidents left seven others injured, all between June of 2017 and December of 2018, prior to Mayor Stothert’s recommendation that FCC, the second lowest bidder, be awarded a 10-year $227 million contract.
The lowest bidder—West Central Sanitation of Minnesota—was deemed too small to handle a city the size of Omaha. The Mayor’s bid team said the company’s “financial review … suggests a high probability of failure to perform (inability to service Omaha) and likely financial distress early in contract period.”
Noting her opposition to West Central at this week city council public hearing Stothert said, “When solid waste is not collected in a safe and timely way public health and public safety are impacted.”
Omaha’s Assistant Public Works Director Jim Theiler tells NCN that the garbage industry is one of the most dangerous businesses around. Theiler also said, “There was nothing that we found or was made available to us (by the bidders) that would disqualify anybody due to safety.”
According to the same federal record system that examined FCC, West Central with 99 garbage trucks and 87 drivers, has had six crashes in the past two years, with one injury and no fatalities.
This is the full statement from Dan Brazil, FCC’s Director of Collection Services:
Below are our comments in response to your phone call inquiry earlier today.
Florida Fatality: “The fatality that occurred in Florida is still under investigation and we cannot comment at this time.”
Overall Company Safety: “We have a robust training program for our employees to focus on safe behaviors and decision making focused on keeping our employees and the general public safe which we are continuously updating and improving as the industry evolves. We operate more than 12,000 collection vehicles across four continents with industry leading safety.”
We would also like to comment on our company: “FCC has more than 115 years of experience with over 58,000 employees, a fleet of over 12,000 vehicles servicing 5,000 municipalities in 37 countries covering four continents. We provide services to major US cities such as Houston, Dallas, Orlando and Lakeland Florida. When it comes to the City of Omaha we are proposing more resources than any other company resulting in more than 120 local jobs for option 3A and up to 150 local jobs for option 1. With these additional resources, we are ensuring the residents of Omaha will be serviced in the safest manner which will result in the highest level of customer service. We are also focused on engaging numerous local companies for multiple business services and a local customer service call center based in Omaha.”