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Renfrewshire acts to improve safety approach following Bin Lorry FAI

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Renfrewshire Council is set to launch a three pronged approach to address the key findings of the Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow Bin Lorry Crash.

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The move is the latest stage in the council’s action plan to coordinate its response to the FAI’s recommendations.

A report to the council’s Leadership Board on Thursday March 29 recommends a package of measures relating to the health, recruitment and training of drivers; managing risk on the routes used by heavy goods vehicles such as bin lorries; and actively monitoring advances in vehicle safety technology.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We have studied the FAI’s findings in detail and brought forward an approach which focuses on the main issues and recommendations.

“There are new approaches and improvements which can be introduced over the next few months and others which will be taken further as vehicle safety technology advances –including phasing in new vehicles with enhanced safety features as the safety technology develops for heavy vehicles as it has recently for cars.

Specific changes are also being considered for waste collection times in Paisley town centre.

“Overall, we have taken a wide-ranging approach which we would stress will be part of a continuing programme to improve safety and minimise risk.

“Many of the measures build on our existing approach to vehicle and driver safety but we want to move forward with as comprehensive an approach as possible.”

The FAI Inquiry concluded that the most effective measures to prevent similar accidents would be to seek to avoid drivers being incapacitated at the wheel.

As a result, a key part of Renfrewshire’s approach has been to take forward proposals relating to the recruitment, ongoing health assessment, and training of drivers.

Renfrewshire Council already takes up references for new drivers. Additional questions on an applicant’s fitness to drive will be added to a pre-employment questionnaire.

Following a face to face medical, further health checks will be made with the applicant’s gp.

Annual medical inspections will be carried out to ensure heavy vehicle drivers remain fit to carry out their duties during their period of employment.

As part of increased safety training, awareness raising sessions will be carried out to ensure all waste collection employees are familiar with steering and braking systems in vehicles.

Council standards would be applied to drivers recruited on a fixed-term or temporary basis.

There will be further analysis and evaluation of refuse collection routes to avoid pedestrian and congestion risks around particular premises such as schools during peak time.

The council is planning to introduce specific refuse collection time slots in Paisley town centre to avoid more crowded times.

A council spokesperson added: Regarding heavy vehicles, it isn’t always technically possible, or the most appropriate safety option, to ‘retro-fit’ new equipment or systems to existing vehicles.

“Along with other Scottish councils, Renfrewshire has been working for some time directly with manufacturers of heavy vehicles, including Volvo.

“Their engineers and scientists are looking to develop and improve technical systems, such as the automatic braking systems increasingly available in cars.

“Renfrewshire Council is not only committed to taking advantage of new technology as it develops and comes to the market over coming years, but also to support the industry in getting new designs right.

“When driving vehicles – whether that is a car or a heavy vehicle weighing several tonnes – there is never a way of eliminating risk altogether.”