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Glasgow bin lorry crash: Inspector denies ‘hasty’ decision

HSE, short memories ? By Hazards campaign 

This issue of HSE classifying this as a simple ‘road traffic accident’ and refusing to investigate it as a work-related death under the Joint Protocol is serious and illogical. 

The HSE does not count or record ‘road traffic accidents’ even when work-related, but in 200 there was a landmark judicial review of the HSE’s decision not to investigate as work-related a similar ‘road traffic accident’ that killed a member of the the public in Manchester. Bereaved by Work in the North West run by Greater Manchester Hazards Centre – the forerunner of FACK – took up this case on behalf of Omar’s family.

“Omar Akhtar, 20, was killed in August 1997 while driving down the one way street in which he lived. A forklift truck emerged from a timber yard with its forks at about 4 feet high and pierced the windscreen causing Omar fatal injuries from which he never recovered. The forklift truck take pallets of sand off a lorry for use at the builders yard on the other side of the road. At the time of the incident, the Health and Safety Executive refused to accept that it was their legal duty to investigate and referred the family time and again to Trafford MBC which has responsibility for enforcing health and safety inside the timber yard. But Trafford MBC correctly insisted that because the incident happened on a public highway, it was within the remit of the HSE.

The only investigation was that by the police of a minor traffic accident. The driver of the truck was charged with driving without due care and attention, without a licence and without insurance. For the charge of driving without a licence he was given a six month conditional discharge and three points on his licence, but the other charges were dismissed at trial. The employers, Moores Timber merchants, were also given a conditional discharge over the lack of licence charge.

Omar’s death resulted from a work activity – unloading a lorry parked on the public highway – which was inherently risky to both employees and members of the public. There appeared to be a lack of risk assessment and development of safe methods of work and as such the work was probably in breach of basic health and safety laws. Despite this, neither the HSE nor Trafford MBC dealt with the incident as a death due to work. Because there was no proper investigation, no evidence for prosecutions was collected therefore no consideration of a charge of corporate manslaughter was never considered by the Crown Prosecution Service. Yet again a company got away with killing someone and not having to pay the penalty, sending out a message of complacency to other employers and outraging Omar’s family. The disparity in treatment of companies and members of the public committing crimes is starkly illustrated by prosecution of the driver of parked car into which Omar’s car crashed after he had been hit by the truck. This driver had no insurance and was disqualified for 12 months. ” 

We challenged this decision as wrong and Helen Dolan, solicitor, took a Judicial Review of the HSE’s decision not to investigate, and won!

The Order by the High Court on 5th April 2000 is as follows:

‘The HSE undertakes to investigate the concerns arising from the Health and Safety at Work legislation consequent upon the fatal accident to Mr. Akhtar on 12/8/97. This investigation to be conducted in accordance with the enforcement policy statement and the principles laid out in the Protocol on Work Related Deaths and the principles of the Health and Safety Executive’s policy HSE 1990/3 and the Guidance to Inspectors on Manslaughter OC165.5, save where these are inconsistent with the previous statement and the protocol. ‘

It is ordered that:

‘The respondent’s (the HSE) decision not to investigate evidence by (the HSE FI) annotated on the file 8/12.97, be removed into this honourable court and be quashed. The respondent (HSE) to pay the applicant’s (the Akhtar family) costs.’

There was an investigation and a HSE Prosecution. 

The Director General of the HSE, Jenny Bacon and Michael Meacher Minister responsible for health and safety at the time apologised to the Akhtar family, as did the NW Regional HSE Director.

All HSE inspectors were briefed on this case at the time. Families Against Corporate Killers believes the decision of the HSE not to investigate should be investigated.



Glasgow bin lorry crash: Inspector denies ‘hasty’ decision – BBC News


Glasgow bin lorry crash: Inspector denies ‘hasty’ decision

21 minutes ago

From the section Glasgow & West Scotland

The inquiry has heard Mr Clarke was unconscious when the bin lorry crashed, killing six people

Bin lorry crash inquiry
Families seek bin lorry prosecution

Video Driver declarations ‘open to abuse’

No DVLA prosecution over bin lorry

Crash driver may be tried in England

A safety inspector has denied that a decision to treat the Glasgow bin lorry crash as a road traffic accident was “hasty and ill advised”.

Barry Baker, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said the incident on 22 December, in which six people died, was “clearly a road traffic accident”.

He also told the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) that it was “investigated by the correct regulators”.

The inquiry is examining the lorry and the health of the driver, Harry Clarke.

Mr Baker, 50, was giving evidence for a second day at the inquiry, which is taking place at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

The inquiry has already heard that Mr Clarke had a history of dizzy spells and fainting which he had not disclosed to the DVLA or on job application forms to Glasgow City Council.

Police investigation
The 58-year-old was unconscious at the wheel of the council bin lorry when it veered out of control on Queen Street, before killing six people and injuring 15 others.

The FAI heard that a meeting was held the day after the crash with representatives from the police, the Crown Office, the HSE and others.

It was agreed at this meeting that the crash was a road traffic incident and would be investigated by police.

(Clockwise from top left) Jack Sweeney, Lorraine Sweeney, Erin McQuade, Jacqueline Morton, Stephenie Tait and Gillian Ewing were killed in the crash

Mark Stewart QC, acting for the family of Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack Sweeney, 68, and Lorraine Sweeney, 69, suggested that Mr Clarke’s medical records were not obtained until 7 January.

He said: “So, this incident was written off within 30 hours by a group who convened without the benefit of what could have been significant information in relation to this particular driver, that could have had a bearing on the issue of contravention of the Health and Safety at Work Act?”

Mr Baker said: “I disagree with that. If there’s a problem with medical fitness to drive, that’s a matter for the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).

“We would become involved if there were systematic issues.”

Mr Stewart said: “The idea that this accident was categorised as a road traffic accident, it must seem that that was hasty and ill-advised?”

The HSE inspector replied: “No. I disagree that it was hasty. It was clearly a road traffic accident, it was investigated by the correct regulators.”

The inquiry, now in its fifth week, continues.




&! nbsp;

Glasgow bin lorry crash: Inspector denies ‘hasty’ decisi…

A safety inspector denies that a decision to treat the Glasgow bin lorry crash as a road traffic accident was “hasty and ill advised”.

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2015 by .
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A continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research produced by Hazards magazine, the Alliance for Cancer Prevention and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

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