Fork lift truck crushed employee at Grantham firm, inquest told

Steve Woollas
Steve Woollas
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The inquest into the death of a Grantham man has heard today how he was thrown out of his fork lift truck as it tipped over and fell on top of him.

Stephen Woollas, 49, of Harrowby Road, died on July 30 last year at Grantham tyre company Vacu-Lug.

The inquest was told that a post mortem revealed Mr Woollas died of injuries consistent with a severe crush injury to the chest. A jury was sworn in this morning at Grantham Magistrates Court.

Mark Shepherd, a witness at the inquest, said he was team leader at the time of the accident. He said he did not see the accident happen but remembered hearing a ‘loud noise’ and ran down to where it came from. He saw that Mr Woollas’ truck had tipped over on top of him,

Another fork lift truck was used to lift Mr Woollas’ vehicle off him. An ambulance and ambucopter arived but the inquest heard Mr Woollas died at the scene.

A number of other Vacu-Lug employees attended today’s inquest to answer questions from coroner Stuart Fisher and solicitors representing Vacu-Lug and Mr Woollas’s family.

Mr Shepherd told the inquest: “We saw Steven trapped under the truck by the cab and we tried to lift it off him.”

Describing his colleague, he said he “could not fault him.” He added: “If you wanted something doing right, he was the one to go to.”

The inquest heard Mr Woollas was using a special clamp mechanism on the front of his truck to pick up tyres which were stored at the side of a road on the site. The accident happened after he had picked up some tyres.

Several employees told the inquest this afternoon that fork lift truck drivers did not wear seatbelts before the accident happened. This had changed since the accident and the wearing of seatbelts was now enforced by the company.

The inquest was also told the company no longer stores tyres on the roadway where fork lift truck drivers would collect them and trucks are now limited to a top speed of 11km per hour.

The inquest continues tomorrow.