City to examine vehicle safety procedures in wake of sanitation worker’s death

The city of Charleston will review vehicle safety policies in the wake of an accident that killed a sanitation worker earlier this week.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced Friday that private donors will cover the funeral expenses for Tyrone Comfort, a contract worker with the city’s Public Service department, who was killed Monday by a city sanitation truck.

Tecklenburg also said the city will begin a 45-day study of safety policies and procedures for all city vehicles in the wake of the accident.

“This was a freak accident and a terrible tragedy,” Tecklenburg said. But it has motivated the city to examine safety procedures for all of its vehicles to better ensure it doesn’t happen again, he said.

The city’s police and fire departments already have procedures in place for examining their vehicles.

Tecklenburg said nobody has pointed to any huge safety gaps related to the city’s vehicles, but safety always can be improved. For instance, he said, such inspections don’t require that the warning sounds for trucks moving in reverse are functioning.

“The beep, beep, beep sound isn’t checked,” he said, but maybe it should be.

He could not recall any city employee being killed or seriously injured by a city vehicle in recent years, he said.

The review will be conducted by a team of city legal and public safety staffers, who will develop training goals and an implementation plan for all city departments. It also will review the procedures used for reviewing mishaps involving city vehicles.

Currently an independent investigation of the accident that killed Comfort is being conducted by the S.C. Highway Patrol. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is examining the specific safety details surrounding the incident.

The accident happened near the corner of Francis and Oswego streets. According to authorities, witnesses said Comfort was standing behind a truck, directing it backwards, when the driver, identified as longtime sanitation employee, rolled over him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.