Recycling company fined £40,000 after worker crushed to death by bin lorry

The bin lorry at Health and Safety Executive’s laboratory in Buxton, Derbyshire Credit: Health and Safety Executive

A company has been fined £40,000 for health and safety breaches after a worker was crushed to death by a bin lorry.

Henry Chambers had been working for Bin Busy Recycling Limited at an aggregates site run by another company in Charlton, London, when the incident occurred on 5 July 2019.

The 65-year-old, from Dartford, had been unloading glass bottles from the lorry at a bay at the site before he became trapped between the vehicle’s tailgate and hopper.

He sustained multiple crush injuries and died in hospital four days later.

Mr Chambers’ wife, Gail, said: “The Christmas before Henry died, we had just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. It was a 40-year marriage which shouldn’t have ended as abruptly as it did.

“Henry was 65 and he kept saying he wanted to retire but there was no set time.

"There were lots of things we wanted to do when he retired. His big dream was to hire a Winnebago and drive Route 66, but he would have been just as happy down in Cornwall.

"His big things were holidays and family.”

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A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident identified multiple faults with the refuse vehicle’s lifting equipment, with some parts excessively worn and even missing. The equipment had not been thoroughly examined by a competent person after Bin Busy purchased the vehicle in April 2017.

A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and its safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person. In the case of this vehicle’s lifting equipment, a thorough examination should have been carried out every 12 months. Although Bin Busy had arrangements in place for the vehicle to be maintained, these were focused on its roadworthiness and did not include inspection and maintenance of its lifting equipment.

Bin Busy Recycling Limited, of Standard Wharf, Manor Road, Erith, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £22,338.24 in costs and the victim surcharge of £181 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023.

HSE inspector Gordon Carson said: “Regular proactive maintenance and inspection of work equipment is vitally important to ensure equipment does not deteriorate to the extent that it puts people at risk or, as was tragically the case here, causes fatal injuries.

"Bin Busy failed to effectively maintain the lifting equipment on this refuse vehicle or arrange for it to be thoroughly examined in accordance with specified timescales.”