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Employers Criticised At Inquest After Woman Is Killed By Fork Lift Truck

Workplace Injury Lawyers Say Lessons Need To Be Learnt By Industry


By Helen MacGregor

The heartbroken family of woman who died after she was knocked down and trapped by a reversing forklift truck in the warehouse where she worked have hit out at the lack of safety measures after an inquest heard her employers were responsible for a series of failings.

‘Caring’ Annie Brennan had worked as a Branch Assistant at the Booker Ltd cash and carry warehouse in Bristol for nearly 20 years but died of multiple injuries after getting trapped under the 3.5 tonne vehicle.

Annie’s siblings and disabled dad David, who she cared for, instructed workplace injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to prevent her death. The family are now speaking out for the first time after a jury returned a verdict of accidental death today (26 March).

The inquest, held at Bristol Coroners Court chaired by Avon Deputy Coroner Gail Elliman, heard from a Bristol City Council Health and Safety Inspector who found there were no lines to segregate walkways for pedestrians and vehicles, staff were not required to wear high-visibility clothing and most staff were not aware of a risk assessment of the warehouse which raised concerns about safety.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will now investigate whether any criminal action is appropriate.

Anusheh Ahmadi, a specialist workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office representing the family, said: “Annie was very family orientated, giving up her spare time to care for her disabled father, and they have all been left devastated by her death.

“They understandably wanted answers as to whether more could have been done to prevent this tragedy from happening.

“Whilst the inquest has gone some way to providing these answers, the family now want proof that changes to health and safety implemented after the tragic incident in the Booker warehouse are working to prevent any similar incidents from happening in the future.

“Warehouse workers are regularly at risk being in such close proximity to vehicles and heavy equipment and we hope lessons are now learnt from this case by the industry as a whole to protect employees as they go about their jobs.”

The court heard that Annie, who was a keen amateur rugby player, walked into the goods-in area going about her daily duties as a supervisor, Ben Morris, drove the forklift truck out into the delivery yard to stack crisps onto a lorry. He then reversed back into the goods-in area not realising Annie was directly behind him and knocked her down.

The police, fire brigade and ambulance arrived and battled to free the 49-year-old and she was transferred to Frenchay Hospital but was sadly pronounced dead from multiple internal injuries a short time later.

Annie’s sister Deborah Teagle, 51, and Lawrence Weston said: “Annie was such a bubbly, selfless character and she was a rock for the family, looking out for us all and caring for our dad.

“She enjoyed her job at the factory and had been there most of her working life. She was very loyal.

“When we received the call to say what had happened we were just in complete shock. It didn’t feel real that Annie, who was always so full of life, was gone.

“The emergency services and air ambulance were amazing and did everything they could to try and save her and we want to thank them for the amazing service they provide. Sadly, nothing could be done for Annie, but they save thousands of other lives every year.

“It has been very difficult to hear that safety precautions were lacking at the warehouse which may have saved Annie but we hope changes have been made at the warehouse and are working to protect other employees. Nothing will bring Annie back but it would give us some peace of mind to know her death was not completely in vain.”


Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to accidents at work