Viridor faces prosecution over death of lorry driver

Waste management firm Viridor is set to be prosecuted over the death of an employee who was run over by his own waste lorry in the grounds of a hospital in Plymouth.

Viridor faces prosecution over death of lorry driverThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is bringing four charges against Viridor concerning the 2015 death of 57-year-old Lee Jane, a waste lorry driver who had been working with Viridor for nine years.

Despite the jury of an inquest in 2016 finding Jane’s death the result of an accident, the new charges relate to systems of working, training, and risk assessments. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled to take place at Plymouth Magistrates Court on Wednesday 7 June.

Jane died from multiple internal and external injuries after he was pulled under his lorry after trying to apply the trailer handbrake once he saw the lorry rolling down a hill towards a building at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. The vehicle had two handbrakes, one for the cab and one for the trailer, with the trailer handbrake located outside of the cab, between it and the trailer.

Andrew Honey, a vehicle inspector, gave evidence to the inquest last year, stating that “a failure someway or another to apply the parking brake on the trailer” was responsible for the tragedy, though “there was nothing wrong with the parking brake when it was examined”.

The HGV vehicle of the type that Jane was driving is fitted with emergency brakes to keep the vehicle where it is under air pressure, but Honey said the system “isn’t safe” enough for drivers to solely rely on that.

This was not the first incident of the like involving a Viridor vehicle, with Mark Clifford, a former Viridor HGV driver, describing to the inquest how a Viridor vehicle he had been driving had run away from him before he was able to stop the vehicle 10 metres short of a wall by jumping up and applying the trailer handbrake.

Jane himself was described as a ‘hero’ for the way he risked his life in an attempt to prevent the lorry crashing into the hospital.

Viridor has said it is cooperating fully with the HSE’s investigation. A spokesman for the firm said: “The death of our colleague Lee Jane in June 2015 was a tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends at their devastating loss.

“Since the incident we have been co-operating fully with the relevant authorities and continue to do so. We take our health and safety responsibilities very seriously. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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