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Council fined over refuse vehicle’s fatal collision

Glasgow City Council has been fined £20,000 after a pensioner was struck by a reversing waste collection vehicle in the city centre.

Malcolm McCulloch, 71, a retired dock worker from Glasgow, was walking across Holm Street, Glasgow, when he was struck by the reversing lorry on 10 August 2012.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted the council for serious safety failings.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the council, which carries out its own commercial glass collections, had introduced a program of reversing assistant training between March and December 2011.

A reversing assistant’s role is to stand outside the vehicle and guide the driver in situations where reversing manoeuvres cannot be avoided.

But the driver of the vehicle on the date of the incident was employed through an agency, rather than as a direct employee of the council. A labourer involved in the incident was a council employee. Neither the driver nor the labourer had undergone reversing assistant training.

The HSE found that the council had failed to ensure that agency workers received training and had also failed to identify that its own employee had not received the training.

HSE inspector Eve Macready, said: “Our investigation has found there was a blind spot for the driver, but if a reversing assistant had been used this would have prevented the incident.

“Reversing vehicles pose one of the biggest hazards in the refuse collection industry and there is plenty of guidance available on how to reduce the risks.

“The fact that the driver and his colleague had not been trained meant they did not have the skills necessary and were not fully aware of the need to use a reversing assistant – as a result McCulloch has needlessly lost his life.”

The incident

The driver checked his mirrors, turned on the vehicle’s flashing beacon and reversing siren, and reversed down the street while his colleague sat in the passenger seat.

At this time, McCulloch walked out between some parked cars to cross the road. However, neither the driver nor his colleague saw him leaving the pavement. He was struck by the lorry, fell underneath the vehicle and was dragged some way along the road as the driver continued to reverse, unaware of what had happened.

The driver only saw McCulloch lying in the road when he stopped the vehicle and got out of his cab. McCulloch was taken to hospital but later died as a result of his injuries.

There was a blind spot, around 2.2 metres wide, that was not covered by the CCTV camera or wing mirrors. A reversing assistant should have been used to guide the driver while reversing and to prevent pedestrians such as McCulloch from being able to cross the road as the lorry reversed.

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