Lake District Council Prosecuted over Bin Lorry Death 13th February 2015
The Health and Safety Executive have reported that a Council in the Lake District has been fined £120,000.00 after two women were killed by reversing rubbish trucks within a year of each other.
South Lakeland District Council was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found the Local Authority had failed to tackle the risk of reversing vehicles.
The tragic circumstances of the case are that the first incident occurred on a single track lane off Easedale Road in Grasmere on the 2nd June 2010. A holiday maker was walking down a single track lane when she was struck by a reversing rubbish truck.
The Driver pleaded guilty to causing death my careless driving in a separate prosecution. However, the Health and Safety Executor in the investigation also found that it was normal practice for a 7.5 tonne bin lorry to reverse down the long track to reach a holiday rental home, without a council employee walking behind to guide the driver.
The Court was told the Council should have reviewed all of its bin collection rounds following the incident to eliminate reversing whenever possible, or to make sure employees guided drivers from behind vehicles when there was no other option but to reverse.
This did not happen and instead reversing was actually introduced at St Marys School on Prince’s Road in Windermere where the separate incident occurred.
The Council had been carrying out fortnightly collections of recycling waste from outside of the school gates for a term when it changed its system and instead began reversing the trucks on to the school grounds to collect the rubbish.
On the 17th March 2011 Council employee Dorothy Harkes, 58, from Ulverston was walking behind a rubbish truck to guide the driver when she was struck, causing fatal injuries.
The driver of the vehicle was also convicted of causing death by careless driving but the health and safety executive investigation concluded that there had been no need for Council trucks to reverse on to the school grounds.
These tragic cases illustrate the importance of planning deliveries to ensure where possible delivery lorries or rubbish trucks do not reverse. Where reversing in impossible to avoid then special measures should be put in place to guide the driver to the point he is reversing to.
Matthew Winder, Senior Litigator Member of APIL dated the 25th day of February 2015