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Employment Law: Waste company convicted and fined for citizen's death

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully prosecuted a waste company for the death of a 61-year-old woman in 2007.

Brighton resident Anne Smith died after she was hit by a refuse vehicle reversing in Brighton city centre in the early hours of the morning.

An HSE investigation found that there were multiple breaches which led to the death. The refuse collection vehicle had reversed without a reversing assistant or banksman, contrary to the company's policies.

The vehicle's CCTV at the rear of the vehicle was also defective. And further, the audible reversing siren was turned off. HSE reports that the driver had believed that the use of this alarm was prohibited before 7.00am.

The company, Team Waste (Southern) Ltd of Turners Hill, Sussex, was found to have breached health and safety laws, leading to the tragic death.

Lewes Crown Court found that the company had failed to ensure that such control measures, which were in fact contained in their own risk assessment, were put into practice.

The company was found guilty of breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides that every employer has a duty 'to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.'

The company has been fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs.

HSE's Inspector Sharon Humphrey said: "This incident could have been prevented had simple, low-cost and readily available precautions been put in place. Detailed guidance freely available from HSE outlines the requirements of the law and provides advice on the practical measures to take."

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