The first prosecution arose from two separate incidents where members of the public were killed by reversing refuse lorries which were operated by South Lakeland District Council. The first incident occurred in June 2010 when a holiday maker, Mary Cook, was hit by a 7.5 tonne lorry while walking along a single track roadway. The second incident, which occurred only 9 months later, resulted in the death of a Council employee, Dorothy Harkes, when she was struck by a bin lorry as she was acting as a reversing assistant. In both instances, the drivers were convicted of causing death by careless driving but the HSE also concluded that there were inadequate risk assessments and procedures in place which could have prevented the incidents. Enforcement notices were served on the Council.
The Council pleaded guilty to breaches of s 2(1) and 3(1) HSWA and was fined £120k. A costs order of £50k was also imposed. When sentencing, HHJ Paul Batty made clear that the failings were sufficiently serious that he would have considered a fine in excess of £1m had the Council been a private company. However, since the Defendant was a local authority it had been necessary not to impose a fine which would not endanger public services that the Council provided.
The second prosecution involved TIP Trailer Services who were fined £500k after its employee, Jennifer Rose, sustained life changing injuries when she was struck by a lorry that was attempting to reverse park on a slope in April 2013. Ms Rose had been acting as a banksman for the driver, but they decoupled the trailer without engaging the parking break, which caused it to roll back and crush her against another vehicle. Ms Rose sustained multiple injuries including 13 bone fractures in her back, shoulders and ribs and a punctured lung. She also suffered a heart attack and was in intensive care for 10 days following the incident. She has since had a slow recovery although she has been able to regain some mobility.
The subsequent investigation found that drivers had been allowed to park on slopes without using chocks and that there was inadequate supervision to ensure that drivers were engaging their handbrakes appropriately. TIP Trailer Services pleaded guilty to breaches of s 2(1) and 3(1) of the HSWA and was ordered to pay costs of £56,938 in addition to the fine.