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Sevenoaks District Council fined £50,000 after road sweeper kills biker

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Sevenoaks District Council has been fined £50,000 after a member of the public was killed when he collided with a roadsweeper.

On September 13, 2010, a council road sweeper lorry was cleaning the outside of a dual-lane slip road when Derek McCulloch (58) drove into the back of it on his motorbike.

The road sweeper had been travelling at approximately 4mph and there was a bend in the road which likely prevented the motorcyclist from seeing the vehicle. McCulloch was pronounced dead at the scene.

Despite the road sweeper having flashing beacons and a 360 sign on the back (a big arrow that indicates vehicles to pass by), Maidstone Crown Court heard last week 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 the 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.

After the case, Guy Widdowson, HSE inspector, 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 McCulloch would not have been killed.

"This is truly a tragic case and was entirely preventable.”

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