Man Killed As Half Tonne Load Falls From Forklift Truck

Lawyer Backs Coroner’s Calls For HSE To Review Training Given To Employees

22.02.2012

Workplace injury specialists representing the family of a man killed when a metal pressing machine weighing around half a tonne fell from a fork-lift truck has joined a coroner in calling for improvements to training for employees.

A two-week jury inquest at Bolton Coroner’s Court heard how 25-year-old welding engineer Bruce Dempsey, from Eccles in Manchester, died on 2 December 2009 as he helped to move a steel pressing machine at Heavey Engineering, now known as Applied Fusion, based in Eccles, Manchester. 

At the inquest concerns were raised about the training given to Bruce and over the use of fork lift trucks, prompting Coroner Jennifer Leeming to say she would now report the verdict to the HSE to seek a formal review of the training given to forklift truck drivers, banksmen and others who could come into contact with them.

That move was backed by Keith Cundall, a solicitor specialising in claims involving serious injury and fatalities based at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office. Representing Bruce’s family, Mr Cundall said the inquest had raised serious issues from which lessons needed to be learned by all employers to prevent future accidents.

The inquest heard how the heavy load overturned as the forklift truck climbed a ramp between two parts of the factory. A failure to undertake a proper risk assessment and take precautions to secure the load could have led to his death. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the jury that had the machine been strapped to the fork-lift truck it would not have fallen.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death with a narrative verdict which said that Bruce was killed when a pressing machine had struck him on the head, fracturing his skull. It had fallen from a fork lift truck being used to move the machine across the factory floor.

Keith Cundall said: “This has been an extremely distressing time for Bruce’s family who have lost a much-loved son. The inquest has gone some way to answering the family’s questions about what happened on the fateful day that Bruce lost his life.

“The company’s risk assessment and training record were questioned at the inquest and the family are concerned that had the necessary and appropriate precautions been taken the accident may not have occurred.

“We are encouraged by the fact the coroner is set to write to the HSE to ask them to review guidelines in relation to improving employee training surrounding fork lift trucks.

“Employees have a right to expect to be safe at work and to be protected from avoidable risks. Bruce’s family has to live with their tragic loss, but hope that safety improvements in the industry will prevent accidents like this happening in the future. 

“At Irwin Mitchell, we have repeatedly called for improvements to safety standards and will continue to campaign on our clients’ behalf. The family in this case wants to ensure that lessons are learned from the worrying issues in this case and that a similar accident cannot be allowed to happen again.”

Bruce’s mother Jeanette Leatham said: “Bruce was a fantastic son and a good friend to all that knew him. We were devastated when we heard about the accident and his loss has left a gaping hole in the family. The thought that there were precautions that could have been taken to prevent his death is hard to take in, and I know this is something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life.

“We support the Coroner’s call for improvements in the training given to those operating and working with forklift trucks. We want businesses to make sure they take notice of our story and think about the heartache it can cause when the necessary safety advice is not followed.”