Team Waste (Southern) Limited, a waste management company based in Sussex, has been fined £250,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £50,000 at Lewes Crown Court, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The waste firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after a member of the public was knocked over and killed by a bin lorry.
Section 3(1) of the 1974 Act makes it a legal obligation for an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health or safety of “persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby.” In other words, employers are legally required to take steps to prevent members of the public being injured or killed as a result of their operations. In the present case, Team Waste (Southern) Limited was deemed to have breached this basic provision of the law and took it further with a no win no fee lawyer.
On the 5th March 2007, 61-year-old Anne Smith, of Brighton, was knocked over by a bin lorry that was reversing up Cranbourne Street at approximately 6:20am. Sadly, the driver of the lorry was unaware that he had hit Mrs Smith until her body came to rest several metres ahead of the vehicle. Mrs Smith was pronounced dead a short time later.
Personal injury claims involving accidents in the waste management and recycling industries are relatively common in the UK. In the majority of cases, accident claims arise after vehicles have collided with pedestrians. It is essential that all employers in the waste management and recycling industries employ controls to prevent workers and members of the public from being hit by vehicles. It’s also common to claim whiplash compensation within the UK.
Speaking after the court hearing, Sharon Humphrey, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Team Waste (Southern) Limited failed to ensure the safe collection of rubbish. 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.”
Ms Humphrey concluded: “Detailed guidance, which is freely available from HSE outlines the requirements of the law and provides advice on the practical measures to take. The HSE takes failure to comply with these provisions seriously and will not hesitate to take action.”
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