14th May 2014
The family of a Brighton grandmother was killed by a reversing bin lorry could make a motor accident compensation claim after being left devastated by their loss.
Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Lewes Crown Court heard that in March 2007, the 61-year-old victim was walking along the pedestrianised Cranbourne Street in Brighton city centre at 6.20am, on her way to work at a local care centre when the incident happened.
The waste lorry's driver, Colin Bullard, was moving the Team Waste vehicle backwards along the street, without help from a reversing assistant – contrary to company policy – and also without engaging the siren to signify that the vehicle was reversing. In court, Mr Bullard claimed that he believed that such alarms couldn't be sounded before 7am.
Additionally, the vehicle had faulty CCTV at the rear, so the driver wasn't aware that he had run down the victim until her body lay in front of the bin lorry.
The company pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that control measures identified in their own risk assessment were put into practice and was fined £250,000 as a result. It was also ordered to pay £50,000 in costs and could face a motor accident compensation claim from the grandmother's family now that liability has been established.
After the trial, HSE inspector Sharon Humphrey remarked that "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," adding that "this incident could have been prevented had simple, low cost and readily available precautions been put in place."
There could be another city centre accident claim due for an incident involving a bin lorry after a cyclist was knocked down and killed by such a vehicle in Hammersmith, London last week.
One local resident told the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle that it had been a woman who had been hit, who they suspect was "probably a local girl… just cycling to work and going about her business". If the waste lorry driver is found to be liable for the city centre accident, they could find themselves facing a motor accident compensation claim from the family of the girl, who was thought to be in her 20s.