Devon

Plymouth runaway lorry death: Waste firm Viridor fined £238k

Lee Jane
Image caption Lee Jane died of multiple injuries when he was pulled under the lorry

A waste firm has been fined £237,500 after a lorry driver was killed by his runaway vehicle.

Viridor worker Lee Jane, 57, was killed as he tried to stop his lorry and trailer rolling down a slope at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

He had failed to apply the handbrake in his cab, Plymouth Crown Court heard.

Viridor Waste Management, which also has to pay costs of £128,428, admitted failing to make an adequate risk assessment.

The lorry and trailer careered down the road, crossing two zebra crossings and smashing into the hospital radio building in June 2015.

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Image caption The runaway vehicle smashed into a hospital radio building

Viridor was cleared by a jury of failing to ensure safety of employees and exposing hospital staff to danger.

An inquest jury in 2016 returned a verdict of accidental death on Mr Jane, from Plymouth, who died from multiple injuries after he was pulled under the skip lorry.

Judge Peter Johnson said the firm had a "good safety record" and "for whatever reason" Mr Jane had left the handbrake off "with fatal consequences".

Georgina Speake of the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution, said that Viridor "failed to properly assess the suitability of the location" and there were level areas that should have been used instead.

"The fact that the location chosen was on an incline heightened the need for careful risk assessment, and this was not done," she said.

'Devoted family man'

Viridor said in a statement after the case that the outcome "makes clear that Viridor was not responsible for Lee's tragic death" but it accepted that the risk assessment "could have been more focused" and it had taken action to address that.

It added that the the firm's thoughts were with Mr Jane's family and friends "following their devastating loss".

His family said in a statement that the "devoted family man" had made a human error by failing to put on the handbrake but "that mistake should not have led to him losing his life".

They continued: "If his employers Viridor had carried out a risk assessment on the site then it would have been obvious that parking on the steep slope in a restricted area was potentially dangerous, changes would have been made and Lee would not have lost his life."

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