Margaret Jones, assistant coroner for Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court, recently carried out an investigation into the death of Adam Forrester, 30.
Mr Forrester was found dead at Brown Recycling’s site in Stoke-on-Trent on 12 September 2017.
The inquest into Mr Forrester’s death concluded on 28 July 2021 and found his injuries were “compatible with being caused by compaction in a bin lorry or other vehicle with a compaction mechanism”.
Ms Jones subsequently sent a report, seen by letsrecycle.com, to Dr Toni Gladding, Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum secretary, and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Dr Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts on 11 August.
In it, Ms Jones expressed concerns that Brown Recycling’s single-crewed refuse collection vehicle (RCV) had collected bins “during the hours of darkness in apparently poor weather conditions and from an area vulnerable to vagrants”.
The assistant coroner also said WISH’s document Effective Proactive Monitoring in Waste and Recycling Collection Activities made no mention of kicking bins or checking for people inside. She noted that this was dealt with in the WISH guidance document Managing Access to Large Waste and Recycling Bins, “but not in the supervision advice document”.
‘Action should be taken’
In her report, Ms Jones said: “In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you HSE and WISH and/or your organisation have the power to take such action.”
“In my opinion action should be taken to prevent future deaths” – Margaret Jones, assistant coroner for Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire Coroner’s Court
Ms Jones said the HSE and WISH had a duty to respond by 7 October. She said the response must contain details of action taken or proposed, setting out the timetable for action.
The report was also sent to the chief coroner, Mr Forrester’s family, Brown Recycling and Stoke-on-Trent city council.
Commercial waste bin
Ms Jones said Mr Forrester had been out drinking on the night of 11 September 2017. He was known to have put his jacket into a commercial waste bin prior to visiting a club.
Mr Forrester was last seen leaving the club at just before 3.30am on 12 September.
At 2.39pm he was found dead in the top shed at Brown Recycling’s site in Stoke-on-Trent. The waste management company had collected waste bins from the vicinity of the night club in the early hours of that morning.
Ms Jones said there was no evidence as to which vehicle had transported Mr Forrester to the recycling plant.
In recent years, the sector has done work to address the issues of people climbing into bins.
In the 2017 financial year, the year in which Mr Forrester was found, the HSE reported that three members of the public died after sleeping in bins or skips which were later taken to recycling sites (see letsrecycle.com story).
A survey on the issue, launched jointly by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Biffa and the Open University, was sent to waste sector experts in August 2019 (see letsrecycle.com story).
For several years, waste management company B&M Waste ran an annual winter ‘Refuse not Refuge’ campaign, warning of the dangers of sleeping in bins. The campaign featured stickers on bins to warn anyone considering sleeping there of the dangers they faced.
In February 2020, Biffa released a report on the dangers of people sleeping in bins (see letsrecycle.com story). That same day, a man’s body was found in the back of a Biffa RCV in Camberwell, south London (see letsrecycle.com story).