A coroner at the inquest into the disappearance of Fife airman Corrie Mckeague has raised fears over bin safety and urged businesses to help prevent future deaths.
Mr Mckeague, from Dunfermline, vanished after a night out in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk, in September 2016.
An inquest in March found that the 23-year-old died after he climbed into a commercial bin, which was tipped into a waste lorry.
Now senior coroner Nigel Parsley has issued a report asking firms to take urgent action to avoid repeat tragedies.
In his plea, Mr Parsley said he was concerned about “ineffective” bin locks, “poor visibility” through viewing window of bin lorries and drivers not “having the means to search the bin thoroughly or safely.”
Urged to take action
His report has been sent out to the British Standards Institute, the Container Handling Equipment Manufacturers Association, Dennis Eagle Ltd – a manufacturer of waste collection lorries – and Biffa Waste Services Ltd.
The organisations must reply within 56 days, detailing what action they intend to take.
Last month’s inquiry heard that Mr Mckeague, who was stationed at RAF Honington, had slept in bins before the night of his disappearance.
He had also slept under bin bags on a previous night out, using them “like a blanket”.
It was also noted that he was a heavy sleeper when he had been drinking.
The inquest heard evidence that over a six year period, there were 740 incidents involving people in bins.
Mr Parsley said that if strong locks were fitted to bins, the number of reported incidents could be reduced.
He said it was “physically impossible to undertake a check of the hopper mechanism on the Biffa lorry as the viewing aperture window is too high”.
Craig Knightley of Tees Law, the solicitors representing the Mckeague family, said: “The family are grateful for the diligence of the Jury who heard extensive evidence over two weeks before coming to their conclusion.
“The fact that there were over 740 incidents over a six year period of people in bins, with the obvious and significant risks, including fatality, indicate that this was a tragedy waiting to happen.”
He added: “The family would like to thank the coroner not only for his compassion throughout the inquest but in preparing the PFD (Prevent Future Deaths) reports, they genuinely hope that the raising of these ongoing concerns, at the very highest level, will lead to changes within the industry that will hopefully further reduce the serious risk to people in bins.”