Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

December 22, 2015

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Council sentenced after biker’s fatality

Sevenoaks District Council has pleaded guilty to safety failings after a member of the public was killed when his motorbike collided with a road sweeper. Following the prosecution the HSE said the “truly tragic case was entirely preventable”.

Maidstone Crown Court heard how on 13 September 2010, a council road sweeper lorry was cleaning the outside of a dual-lane slip road when 58-year-old Derek McCulloch drove into the back of the sweeper on his motorbike. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The maintenance vehicle had been travelling approximately 4 mph and there was a bend in the road which likely prevented the motorcyclist from seeing it.

Despite the road sweeper having flashing beacons and a 360 sign on the back (a big arrow that indicates vehicles to pass by) there should have been significantly more controls in place for sweeping a stretch of road like this.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found there was no road specific risk assessment in place, just a generic one covering all road sweeping done by Sevenoaks District Council. This did not identify all suitable control measures needed for sweeping this dual-lane slip road.

Sevenoaks District Council, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £32,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said: “Competent risk assessments are essential when carrying out any significant task. These risk assessments need to identify the appropriate controls and such controls need to be implemented and checked to ensure they remain suitable and sufficient. Relevant industry guidance is there to be viewed when deciding what controls are needed.

“This incident shows how important it is for local councils, and other companies, to properly assess the risk of work tasks. If the task had been properly risk assessed, planned and suitable controls used Mr McCulloch would not have been killed. This is truly a tragic case and was entirely preventable.”

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