The family of a Coventry City Council refuse collector who died after he was pulled into the back of a bin lorry has called for urgent action to be taken to protect workers after an inquest found that the training he had received was inadequate, and that the vehicle he was working with could have been safer. 

David Carpenter was 60 years old when a piece of his clothing got caught by the bin lifting equipment whilst he was clearing debris from behind the truck on January 19th, 2023. 

At the inquest which concluded on April 22nd, 2024, the jury heard from witnesses in relation to the training provided to refuse workers, the Council’s health and safety measures and risk assessments in place at the time of his death, and about the safety of the bin lorry that David had been working on 

This included evidence from Jon Sayers, Engineering Director at Dennis Eagle Ltd, the manufacturer of the refuse vehicle, who confirmed that the thousands of vehicles of the same or similar configuration that are still on UK roads are not of ‘optimal safety’. 

The manufacturer told the inquest that safety changes have been made, and that since January 2024 there is a new and improved design of the bin lifting equipment, which includes additional sensors and repositioned emergency stop buttons. 

He also said that there is a software update available for lorries manufactured before January 2024, which detects when a bin is no longer attached to the lifting equipment and stops the compaction cycle. However, software upgrades for these machines is currently optional, and only a small number of upgrades have taken place to date. 

Delivering their conclusion following the two-week hearing the jury described the incident as ‘foreseeable’, adding that the risk assessments carried out by the Council at the time of Mr Carpenter’s death had been ‘inadequate, insufficient and incomplete’. 

Bringing the hearing to a close, Coroner Delroy Henry acknowledged that the Council had since updated its training and risk assessment procedures, but that he would issue a prevention of future death (PFD) report in relation to Dennis Eagle Ltd. 

He said that the vehicle, which is used by many Local Authorities to collect rubbish in residential areas, could have been safer.  

Speaking at the end of the hearing Mr Carpenter’s family, supported by Unite the Union and represented by Thompsons Solicitors, spoke of their grief, and expressed deep concern over the systemic safety failures exposed by the inquest.  

They have now called on Coventry City Council to further review its training and safety protocols for refuse workers and called for the upgrades to the Dennis Eagle vehicles to be made mandatory.  

In a statement given after the conclusion, the family revealed their shock after learning of the frequency of these incidents and the lack of adequate risk assessment and training for clearing debris, which was acknowledged as an everyday occurrence.  

Speaking on behalf of the family Claire Chetwynd, David’s stepdaughter, said: “We are profoundly grateful for the time we had with David, a cherished and much-loved partner, son, Dad, brother, Grandad and friend whose life ended tragically while serving his community.  

“David was a devoted refuse collector, a crucial yet often overlooked role integral to the health of everyone in this City and throughout the UK.  

“Throughout the inquest, we were alarmed by the revelations concerning the lack of proper training for refuse collectors, especially on how to safely clear blockages in the equipment—a routine hazard in their daily work.  

David with his grandson fishing
David with his grandson fishing
David Carpenter with Claire Chetwynd
David Carpenter and Claire Chetwynd

“The historical absence of comprehensive training and risk assessments for such a fundamental aspect of their job is a grave oversight, and whilst evidence has come to light that Coventry City Council has updated it’s training and guidance policies, there is still work to be done.  

“Workers need absolute clarity on what is expected of them when there is any sort of debris to clear, as well as absolute clarity over who is responsible for managing the process.  

“If these policies and procedures had been in place when David was working, he would still be with us now.  

“We also echo the concern of the coroner that the decision whether or not to upgrade the software on the vehicles still in use in the UK is optional. This needs to be mandatory. Urgent action is needed to address these issues to protect these vital workers." 

Karl De-Loyde, the lawyer representing the family from Thompsons Solicitors, supported by Unite the Union, said: “This has been a deeply upsetting time for the family who are understandably still coming to terms with their loss.  

“Throughout the inquest the court heard clear evidence that there were serious failings with the Council’s risk assessments in place at the time of Mr Carpenters death, a failure to learn from previous incidents, and significant safety concerns with the vehicle itself. 

“Sadly, these failings and shortcomings mean that this was a tragedy waiting to happen. 

“It is now imperative that the vehicle manufacturer takes on board the points made by the coroner, and we support the family’s call for software checks and updates to the bin lorries to be made mandatory to prevent future loss of life.”   

David’s sister, Jane Carpenter, speaking on behalf of her sister Marie, brother Gerry and their mother, 83, added: “Our Dad instilled in all of us the value of working for a living so shortly after leaving school David started working as a bin man with Coventry City Council. 

“Not a job that many would choose to do but he did. 

“This is a job that should be more valued in society. David was respected by members of the public, but more so his work colleagues. He was friendly and helpful and also hard working. 

“His service to Coventry City Council has been lifelong. 

“David losing his life in this way has left his entire family shocked by the nature of his death and deeply saddened. It has also been very difficult for the people he worked with who he also considered family. 

“There is no one like my brother.”

Unite acting legal director Stephen Pinder said: The sad events involving our member David Carpenter represent a stark reminder of the dangers faced by millions of workers on a daily basis. 

“Unite fully expects that the recommended improvements for health and safety will be implemented across all employers and Unite will continue to work with David’s family and to offer all necessary support, including through the work done by our solicitors.


“Sunday 28 April is International Workers’ Memorial Day and a case such as this confirms why this day is important in remembering all of those killed and injured at work, and in focusing all of our efforts to improve health and safety standards.”