Indianapolis Department of Public Works fires solid waste director, supervisor after worker's death

Prosecutor's office, feds told of allegations

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Department of Public Works on Friday fired two employees amid allegations they were involved in backdating and back-signing of inspection reports in the wake of the death of a worker on the job earlier this month.

John Workman, DPW's director of solid waste, and Scott Hendrickson, a supervisor in solid waste, had been suspended after Thomas Welch, 45, died when he was pinned against a tree while walking or hanging off a garbage truck April 8.

Drivers are required to fill out an inspection of garbage trucks that includes checking out the engine compartment, suspension, brakes and other items each day.

The inspections are required by the Department of Transportation and must be kept for two years.

After Welch's death, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration told DPW that it needed to examine records and training calls by a specific date.

Officials said that Workman discovered that up to 30 inspection reports had not been signed and dated and ordered two supervisors to begin backdating and back-signing them.

"During our investigation, we had a DPW employee come to us on April 17 and report to my deputy director of operations that some unethical behavior was going on and some staff were actually falsifying documents," said Lori Miser, director of DPW. "This is what triggered what I'll call this internal panic for some of the falsification."

The initial investigation resulted in Workman and Hendrickson being suspended without pay.

Two more supervisors -- James Edward and Willie Henson -- were also suspended for five days without pay.

IOSHA was told of the allegations, and DPW referred the issue to the city's legal department and the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

"(IOSHA) received the records that had been falsified, and we let them know ahead of time that this had happened," Miser said.

Miser added that the matter may be referred to federal investigators because commercial driver's license records were involved.

Workman oversaw the collection of garbage from 260,000 Indianapolis homes. He had worked for DPW for nearly 13 years. Hendrickson had been with DPW for seven years.

Anthony Hudson, 33, was driving the truck at the time of Welch's death. He was transferred from solid waste to the parks department.

RTV6 attempted to contact Workman at his home Friday. Someone looked out the window, but no one came out to answer questions.

Indianapolis police said the investigation of Welch's death is complete, except for Hudson's toxicology report, which is pending.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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