Death of man stuck in Vancouver clothing collection bin sparks debate over safety
Published Friday, January 4, 2019 1:33PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2019 7:17PM EST
The death of a Vancouver man who got stuck in a donation bin on Sunday has Montreal charities taking safety precautions with their own collection receptacles.
Denise Ouellette of the St-Vincent De Paul Society said that outdoor clothing bins are a huge help in collecting donations for those in need.
“It’s about 60 per cent of our revenues that come from selling of the clothes, the furniture and all the housing material that we can get,” she said.
But the bins come with a downside. Ouellette said people have been found inside the receptacles, though they were never injured. Last year, metal plates were added inside the chute to prevent people from climbing in and cameras are used to monitor them.
“What I will do is go around my organization and ask them to make sure everything is okay and there’s no pieces that are weak so that people can get stuck,” she said.
Since 2015, seven people have died in clothing bins across Canada. Following Sunday’s death, West Vancouver has shut down clothing bins while it looks at steps to make them more secure.
Amar Sabih, an engineering instructor at McGill University, said a redesign is necessary.
“People are dying, stuck here, and nobody can access them to help them,” he said. “You can’t undo it, when you’re stuck there, you can’t undo it. You can’t open it and get people out. The mechanism is meant for boxes, not people.”
Sabih suggested several measures that could make the bins safer, such as making them transparent, adding a trap door that opens from the inside, or adding sensors that detect anything beyond a specific weight.
“It’s not as expensive if you compare it to a human life,” he said. “Very cheap in my belief.”