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Co-op home delivery van ran over 88-year-old customer

Co-operative Food Group has been fined £20,000 after an 88-year-old man was knocked down by a home delivery van outside its Shaftesbury Road store in Bath.

The Co-operative Group

The accident occurred when Edward Harris was walking from the car park to the shop on 29 January last year. He passed through a gap in the railings, which was the only route between the car park and the store, and walked behind the parked van. 

The van reversed and struck Harris. He was knocked to the ground and fractured the top of his femur. He also developed several complications as a result of the accident, including pneumonia, an acute kidney injury and a probable artery blockage in his lung. 

The health and safety department of Bath and North East Somerset Council, which brought the prosecution, was notified of the incident and found it was custom and practice for the store to park and load its delivery van in a yellow hatched area outside the front of the shop. 

The van’s rear doors faced backwards towards the gap in the railings and the driver had to reverse across the pedestrian route to get out because bollards prevented him from driving forwards. There were no windows in the back doors, no rear-facing camera and no banksman to help the driver manoeuvre. The vehicle had been reversed in this way three or four times a day, six days a week for the past four years. 

The council said: “Whilst there were a number of shortcomings in the Co-op’s working practices, had the Co-op addressed the practice of parking the vehicle on a pedestrian access and reversing blindly across it, the health and safety of those not in its employment would not have been at risk and Mr Harris would not have sustained the injuries that he did.” 

The Co-op pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Bath Magistrates’ Court on 14 April.

“The council are pleased that the company co-operated fully with the investigation and that measures are now in place to improve safety,” said the council’s cabinet member for community services, Martin Veal. 


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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