Fourth person killed by waste vehicle in April

Four people have now been killed by waste vehicles this month after a 57-year-old pedestrian was hit by a Bywaters refuse lorry in Brent, North London.

The woman, who has not yet been named but worked for Serco, which manages parking services in the area for Brent Council, was hit by the vehicle at around 8.45am on Monday (25 April) on Abbey Road, Park Royal, and died at the scene from extensive head injuries.

A statement released by the Metropolitan Police said that the victim’s next of kin have been informed, though officers await formal identification. The driver of the refuse lorry stopped at the scene and there has been no arrest.

A witness to the accident told the Evening Standard that she saw the woman’s body lying between a skip lorry and another vehicle, adding that the road is in a busy industrial area with lots of lorries travelling on it.

A spokesman for Serco said: “There was a tragic accident earlier this week involving one of our employees, who was on her way to work. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Waste vehicle deaths

The woman is the fourth person to be killed after being hit by a waste vehicle this April.

Kane Beard, a 22-year-old employee of Amey, was killed in Daventry in a collision with the waste collection vehicle that he was operating on 8 April. Beard was part of a four-man crew working on a refuse collection round when he was hit by the vehicle. Northamptonshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are investigating how the collision occurred.

Less than two weeks later, on 17 April, Moira McKeeman, an 85-year-old woman from Edinburgh was hit and killed by a collection vehicle in Edinburgh. McKeeman sustained fatal injuries when hit by the truck, operated by waste management company NWH Group, on Morningside Road in the south of the Scottish capital. Police Scotland has launched an investigation into the incident.

This was followed last week (19 April) by the death of a 70-year-old man from Otley, who died after the car he was driving collided with a bin lorry. The driver of the refuse collection truck, a man in his twenties, was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary with a serious arm injury, while the passenger in the truck was airlifted to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough with a serious shoulder injury.

Health and safety in the waste industry

In response to the deaths, a spokesperson for the Environmental Services Association (ESA), the trade association for the UK's resource & waste management industry, said: "ESA’s members are committed to improving health and safety standards across the industry. A concerted effort by the industry and HSE has resulted in a general downward trend in accident rates. Since the launch of ESA’s Accident Reduction Charter in 2004, total accidents are down 78 per cent.

"But any fatality or serious accident is one too many and our ambition is of course zero harm. We believe it can never be acceptable that people are fatally injured or harmed as a result of avoidable accidents in the waste and resource management industry.

"ESA and its members, through our Accident Reduction Charter, are therefore committed to achieving the best possible health and safety performance. Achieving this goal will require cooperation between various parties in the industry to ensure that best practice is disseminated more widely for the benefit of all, and that a health and safety culture is more firmly embedded within all organisations, whether large or small."

The HSE has previously released guidance on keeping pedestrians and vehicles separate, emphasising that by law, pedestrians or vehicles must be able to use a traffic route without causing danger to the health or safety of people working near it, and they must also keep vehicle routes far enough away from doors or gates that pedestrians use, or from pedestrian routes that lead on to them, so the safety of pedestrians is not threatened.

The waste and recycling industry has been branded as one of the most dangerous to work in, and figures released by HSE last year revealed that 11 people, including six members of the public were fatally injured in the waste and resources sector in 2014/15.

This number, which excludes the fatalities from the Glasgow bin lorry crash, constitutes a 120 per cent increase on the number of deaths reported in 2013/14, and the rise has largely been due to an increase in the number of members of the public being fatally injured at waste sites or by waste machinery.

In 2013, the body published the ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2012-15’ to outline ‘immediate action points’ that employers can take to provide clearer training and safer workplaces.