LifeChanger Award

Tragedy transformed by safety culture commitment

Fifteen years ago, Erich Jenkins was killed in a fatal accident involving a Waste Management truck. His death is tragic, but it led to something positive – the creation of the company’s LifeChanger and Mission to Zero initiatives, which over the years has transformed Waste Management and its safety culture.

On April 26, Erich Jenkin’s wife, Heidi, joined the company during its first-quarter employee town hall to celebrate LifeChanger’s 15-year anniversary, and to recognize four of the company’s safety leaders with a LifeChanger of the Year award. In the 15 years since her husband’s death, Heidi has been a tireless advocate in supporting Waste Management’s safety initiatives.

“Waste Management stole Eric from Heidi and their two children,” said Jim Trevathan, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “To set aside your own grief and anger, and to partner with the people most responsible for your loss is something we all greatly admire.”

“Erich is here with us in spirit,” Jenkins said. “I applaud everything Waste Management has done since 2002 to lead to such remarkable improvements.”

Following remarks, Heidi Jenkins recognized three four employees who have shown outstanding commitment to the (M2Z) Mission to Zero safety culture: Richard Elenbaas, Heavy Equipment Operator, Autumn Hills Landfill in Zeeland, Michigan; Josh Peters, Driver, Marquette, Michigan; Randy Willkomn, Safety Specialist for the Illinois Missouri Valley Area and Val Ruoff Sr. District Manager of Rochester NY.

Photo L-R: Jim Fish, Richard Elenbaas, Val Ruoff, Josh Peters, Heidi Jenkins, Randy Willkomn, and Jim Trevathan