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REVERSING VEHICLE FATALITY PROSECUTION

Defective CCTV and inoperable reversing alarm caused death of pedestrian

A company has been fined £250,000 following the death a member of the public who died when she was run over by a reversing vehicle.

Lewes Crown Court heard that on the 5 March 2007, Anne Smith, aged 61 was struck by a refuse vehicle as it reversed at 6.20am. The driver did not realise he had struck Mrs Smith until her body lay about 3m in front of the vehicle.

HSE investigators found that the driver reversed the vehicle without a banksman, contrary to the company operating policy. The vehicle had defective CCTV at the rear and the audible reversing siren was turned off. The driver believed such alarms were prohibited before 7.00am.

The company failed to ensure that control measures identified in their own risk assessment were put into practice.

Simple, low cost and readily available precautions

Team Waste (Southern) Ltd of Burleigh Oaks Farm East Street, Turners Hill, Crawley was found guilty of breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety etc. at Work Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

The driver of the dustcart, Colin Bullard, also from Brighton, was fined £2,500 in 2008 for driving without due care and attention. A jury at Hove Crown Court cleared him of the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving. Managing director Allan Taylor was cleared of failing to ensure the safety of Ms Smith. He said

 “It has been four years now. It has been a long time, but this trial bringing it all back was really hard.”

HSE’s Inspector Sharon Humphrey said:

“As a result of its failure an innocent woman has died unnecessarily. This has had devastating consequences for her family. Waste collection on public streets can be a high-risk activity if not properly planned. The law requires employers to assess the risks to its employees and members of the public.

This incident could have been prevented had simple, low cost and readily available precautions been put in place. Detailed guidance, which is freely available from HSE outlines the requirements of the law and provides advice on the practical measures to take.”

Comment

The circumstances in which this tragic incident occured are similar to those that arise on construction sites where vehicles are making deliveries in confined locations. It highlights the importance of providing and properly maintaining control measures, both procedural and hardware, regarding such vehicle movements.

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