Indy faces $80K in fines for trash collector death

A workplace safety inspection prompted by the death of an Indianapolis trash collector has resulted in 10 violations and proposed fines of $80,000 for the city's public works department.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing the largest fine, $70,000, for a knowing violation in which the Indianapolis Department of Public Works allowed trash collectors to ride on the rear steps of garbage trucks traveling more than 10 mph.

Thomas Welch, 45, died April 8 after a garbage truck that was backing up struck him.

The Sept. 5 IOSHA report cited the city for four knowing violations, five serious violations and one non-serious violation. IOSHA proposed $5,000 fines on two of the serious violations: for not having written procedures for the garbage truck and for sanitation workers not using lockout devices when cleaning inside the body of garbage trucks.

The city agency has until Friday to contest the violations and fines.

"The Department of Public Works is still reviewing the report and fines at this time," agency spokeswoman Lesley Gordon said in a statement.

Welch, who had more than five years of experience with the city, was part of a two-man crew on a garbage route when he was killed. The driver of the garbage truck told police he checked both of side-view mirrors and when he didn't see Welch, he assumed Welch was on the truck.

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