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Sweeping Employee Training and Management

Maximizing Night Shift Sweeper Operator Safety

The impetus for this article was the shooting of a parking area sweeper operator working at a Lowe's facility in Houston, Texas, on February 11th, 2022.

by Ranger Kidwell-Ross with John Meola, CSP, ARM

In February of 2022, we received a report of a sweeper operator being fatally shot while on shift. Investigators reviewed video surveillance footage from the store and say that the operator stopped his sweeper truck and exited the vehicle in order to pick up several pieces of large debris. When he did, a silver SUV entered the parking lot and pulled up next to the sweeper truck. Two black males exited the silver SUV and approached him.

The operator appeared to resist the suspects and a physical altercation ensued. One of the suspects pulled out a gun and shot the operator one time. The suspects fled the scene and, as of this writing, had not been apprehended.


WorldSweeper spoke to John Meola, who provides a monthly safety bulletin for the members of our affiliated World Sweeping Association. John is a nationally acclaimed safety advisor for asset management firm, Pillar, Inc. The following is what Meola recommended to minimize the occurrence of such an incident or similar ones.

"First off," said Meola, "there are NUMEROUS preventive measures for this kind of criminal activity avoidance. I've been preaching basically the same message for mixed commercial fleets, delivery drivers, night workers, etc."

Meola's Suggestions...

  • Vehicle has sign or decal saying 'Driver Carries No Cash.'
  • Vehicle has sign or decal saying 'Video Camera in use" or simlar language.
  • Vehicle has BRIGHT lights all around it, especially when driver is on the ground.
  • Driver is wearing High-Vis Apparel – upper body and maybe also pants, for ultra high conspicuity.
  • Driver is instructed to stay in well lit areas, avoiding obscure areas whenever possible.
  • If the debris to be removed is not something critical he should just drive around it, or come back in daytime, or otherwise avoid exiting the cab for some random reason.
  • Driver should remain in the cab with doors LOCKED and windows rolled up whenever possible.
  • In questionable areas if the driver must exit the vehicle, he should have a VERY LOUD AIR HORN (marine supply store) for use in an emergency. These horns are so loud they can damage your hearing up close. This should be used as a 'defensive' warning measure when the driver feels threatened.
  • If the truck has a warning alarm or theft alarm, on the key fob for example, the driver should take it with them on the ground. They can then activate it if the situation looks dangerous. (This is a common advisory to persons in residential areas: If there's a break-in or other commotion overnight, hit the car alarm button and make a big noise. This tends to discourage random criminals.)
  • Note: One thing I do not recommend is to give the operators weaponry...
"Finally," Meola said, "there is always something that can be done as a preventive measure. It's just a matter of discipline and will to implement the measures."

For an 8.5x11 handout of the above information suitable for putting into a vehicle glovebox and/or using for training, click here.

You may reach John Meola via email sent to If you have more ideas of items that should be on the list shown above please send them to us. If appropriate, we'll add them as an addendum to this article.

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