The inquest into the death of a homeless man found at a Wirral recycling plant in 2012 concluded that the man died from injuries sustained in what was described as a “horrific” accident.
The body of John Basset, 50, was found after a waste container was emptied at B&M Waste Services in Dock Road South, Bromborough in September 2012.
It is believed Bassett climbed into the bin to sleep, acting Wirral coroner Andre Rebello told the inquest at Gerard Majella court in Liverpool.
The inquest concluded that Bassett had climbed into a skip, which had been “inadequately secured” at the Cherry Tree Centre, receiving ‘sustained extensive fracturing of the skull which proved fatal”, caused by a mechanical grabber in the wagon
The official cause of death was found to be caused by a severe blunt head injury and mixed drug intoxication. A toxicology examination found Bassett also had levels of methadone and other prescription drugs.
During the two-day hearing, the court heard from driver Stephen Smith, who had picked the bin up Cherry Tree shopping centre in Liscard.
He said he had seen nothing unusual when he had tipped out the contents. He later received a call from B&M staff to say a body had been found in the load.
The inquest concluded that Bassett had climbed into a skip, which had been “inadequately secured” at the Cherry Tree Centre, receiving “sustained extensive fracturing of the skull which proved fatal”, caused by a mechanical grabber in the wagon.
Fatalities In The Waste Sector
Provisional figures released in July by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate the number of workers killed in the waste and recycling sector in the UK has dropped.
The figures revealed there were four fatal injuries to workers in the waste and recycling industry between April 2013 and March 2014.
This is lower than the average count of seven over the last five years. The latest rate of 3.33 deaths per 100, 000 compares to an average rate of 5.48.
In total 133 workers were fatally injured between April 2013 and March 2014, compare with 150 in the previous year.
The overall rate of fatal injury has dropped to 0.44 per 100,000 workers, compared to 0.51 in 2012/13.
CIWM partnered with waste and recycling company Biffa and StreetLink last year to raise awareness of the issue after a spate of incidents involving people sleeping in waste containers.
A homeless man was crushed to death in a recycling plant last year after he fell asleep in a wheeled bin – the man was a known homeless man in the area – and earlier this year a man was almost killed after sleeping in a recycling bin in Dublin, spurring Ireland’s largest waste collector to call for safety protocols to be implemented in an effort to avoid fatal incidents.
Research conducted earlier this year revealed that 16 percent of people found sleeping in bins were only discovered after they were tipped out
There have been other similar incidents across the industry and it is hoped that by raising awareness further incidences like this can be avoided.
“The aim of the joint communications campaign with StreetLink is three-fold,” explains Tim Standring, Biffa’s Divisional Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Coach. “We are seeking to raise awareness of the issue; highlight the dangers amongst rough sleepers of seeking shelter in bins; and to encourage waste management workers and their customers to contact StreetLink if they are concerned about someone sleeping rough.”
Research conducted earlier this year revealed that 16 percent of people found sleeping in bins were only discovered after they were tipped out.
David Beadle, President of CIWM said of the research: “The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management is committed to raising awareness of this issue and we are delighted to be a research partner in this report. Working with homeless charities is vital for developing the right guidance, and to helping those who are unfortunate enough to be sleeping rough to make choices that do not pose an added risk to their wellbeing.”
HSE guidance on this issue is available and by ensuring best practice is followed when checking bins prior to tipping, and training waste collection crews to know what advice to give to their customers on the need to lock bins, it is hoped that lives can be saved.