Lake District Council Fined Over Bin Lorry Deaths

Prosecution For Two Separate Incidents In 12 Months That Both Resulted In Death


A council in the Lake District has been sentenced over the deaths of two women who were killed by reversing rubbish trucks. The two separate incidents occurred within a year of each other.

South Lakeland District Council were found to have failed to tackle the risks from reversing vehicles and were fined £120,000 and £50,000 prosecution costs as a result.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigations into the incidents, which occurred in June 2010 and March 2011, found that the council had failed to review its bin collection rounds to eliminate the need for reversing whenever possible.

The drivers of both trucks were convicted of careless driving. However, that the second incident occurred after recommendations had already been made meant the HSE felt it necessary to investigate the council also.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE’s Principal Inspector for Cumbria and North Lancashire Mark Dawson, said: "Both the drivers have already admitted their part in the 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 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 rather than trying to eliminate it wherever possible."

Expert Opinion
Employers of all kinds have a duty to ensure that the movement of vehicles is managed effectively so that the risks to their workforce and the general public are minimised. Sadly this was not the case in these two instances, leading to two women suffering fatal injuries.

"It is vital that all local authorities pay close attention to the facts of these cases, in an effort to ensure that lessons can be learned which will avoid similar tragedies in the future. Safety must always come first and this is particularly importance when it comes to management of vehicles."
Stephen Nye, Partner