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Safety Failings Highlighted At ‘Kindergarten’ Factory After Leeds Worker Crushed To Death

Specialist Workplace Injury Lawyers Secure Justice For Family


The family of a fork lift truck driver, who died from horrific injuries after he was crushed in a carpet cutting machine at work, have spoken out for the first time following an inquest in Leeds, calling for all employers to ensure that health and safety guidelines are properly enforced in the workplace to prevent future tragedies.

John Foster, who was just short of his 48th birthday at the time of the incident, worked as a fork lift truck driver at Mercado in the Cross Green area of Leeds.  He had been employed by the company for almost 20 years. On the 6th January 2009, John had completed his daily tasks and was cleaning a large automated carpet cutting machine.  This was normal practice for employees.  

Whilst the machine was being cleaned, the court heard that the machine was switched on and a sensor was activated causing a large cradle to lower and crush him. The court heard of the history of practical jokes at the factory which the jury concluded was like a ‘kindergarten’
John was taken to Leeds General Infirmary where his assessment and treatment was delayed. He later underwent five surgical procedures but died from his injuries on 13th January 2009.

A large numbers of witnesses were called including former and present employees of the company, the Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to give evidence at the inquest which lasted five weeks.

Assistant Coroner for West Yorkshire Melanie Williamson, assisted by the jury, concluded on 28 November 2014 that Mercado had ignored previous complaints and incidents and had failed to act to ensure good health and safety practice or train staff adequately.

Mr Foster’s widow, Linda Foster from Leeds instructed specialist workplace accident lawyers at Irwin Mitchell following her husband’s death to provide advice and support to the family during the inquest procedure. 

Expert Opinion
This has been an incredibly difficult time for the family – they have been left completely heartbroken by their loss as John died from horrendous injuries.

“In times when politicians are obsessed by there being a health and safety culture, John’s sad death highlights the critical importance of employers following and enforcing health and safety guidelines in the workplace.

“Employees have a right to go to work and to expect to come home safely at the end of their working day. This doesn't happen by chance. Only by employers living up to their legal obligations in all respects can this be the case and future tragic deaths be prevented.”
Ian Bailey, Partner

John’s wife, Linda, said: “We have been left completely devastated by John’s death. We have felt wholly let down by everyone involved investigating his death including Mercado, West Yorkshire police, the health professionals and the Health and Safety Executive. Not one of these organisations did justice to John and investigated his death properly. We believe if the proper safety guidelines had been followed by Mercado and previous incidents properly acted upon, John would still be with us today.

“It has taken almost six years to get to this point and a five week inquest into his death to understand how and why John died. We would like to thank the Coroner for taking the time to investigate the circumstances leading up to his death.

We would also like to thank our legal team from Irwin Mitchell for their help and support and the tremendous hard work of the Jury in ensuring that some justice has been done. As a family, we want to move on, but we want to make sure that incidents like this do not happen again.”

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