Carlisle Crown Court has fined a Lake District council £120,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation and report detailed how the two deaths had occurred within 12 months of each other.
The HSE told the court that firstly, a 54 year old holiday maker from Nottingham was hit by a reversing bin lorry while walking in Grasmere in June 2010. The vehicle was reversing down a narrow lane to reach a holiday home on rubbish collection day.
The HSE also reported that it was common practice for the 7.5 tonne vehicle to reverse down the single track lane without the aid of another worker to ensure the route clear of any hazards.
The driver of the council lorry pleaded guilty to death by careless driving in a separate prosecution.
The HSE stated that after the first fatal incident, the Lake District council should have reviewed the way the bin rounds were performed to ensure this did not happen again. However, the Court was told that a second fatal accident occurred in March 2011 near a school. Again, a reversing vehicle struck a lady who was walking behind the lorry to guide the driver. She later died of her injuries.
The driver of the vehicle was prosecuted for death by dangerous driving.
After the case was heard, Mark Dawson from the HSE stated:
“Both the drivers have already admitted their part in [the two women’s] deaths but our investigation found the council had not done all it should have to protect the public and their employees from the danger of reversing rubbish trucks.”
“The lane that [the first woman] and her husband had been walking along was heavily used by holidaymakers and yet the council failed to make sure measures were in place so that its vehicles could reverse safely.”
“What’s particularly disappointing is that the council actually introduced reversing as part of its collection of recycling waste from [the School], rather than trying to eliminate it wherever possible following [the woman’s] death.”