The largest local authority in the country in terms of population, Birmingham City Council, has been fined after a refuse worker sustained leg injuries when he was trapped against a van by a reversing bin lorry.
Street cleansing officer Allan Chevelleau, 41, of Kings Norton was working at Birmingham City Council’s fleet and waste depot in Tyseley when the incident happened on 6 March 2014. Mr Chevelleau required hospital treatment for ligament injuries to his lower right leg.
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard today (19 December) that Mr Chevelleau was trapped between the door and cab of his parked street cleansing vehicle when it was struck by a bin lorry as it reversed into a neighbouring parking space.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution, said the bin lorry had not reversed in accordance with the council’s safe working procedure. This required a colleague to act as a reversing assistant to help guide the bin lorry driver during reversing manoeuvres.
HSE inspector Karl Raw – “It is vital, particularly in busy depots and yards where there are regular vehicle movements, that there is a programme of supervision and monitoring of how workers adhere to safe working practices”
HSE’s investigation found that this was not an isolated case of a vehicle reversing without assistance. CCTV footage of vehicles reversing in the depot showed workers routinely reversing vehicles without assistance, indicating they were not worried about potential disciplinary action for not doing so.
Senior management admitted there was no policy or programme of monitoring, or supervision of how employees were reversing.
Birmingham City Council, of The Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 5(1) of The Management of
Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £10,000 with £1,887 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karl Raw said: “Mr Chevelleau is very lucky not to have suffered more serious injuries following an incident which was entirely preventable.
“It is vital, particularly in busy depots and yards where there are regular vehicle movements, that there is a programme of supervision and monitoring of how workers adhere to safe working practices.
“Reversing a HGV is a recognised high risk activity. It is only good fortune that this did not result in a fatality.”