A MAN was killed after being struck by an unsecured machine press which weighed about the same as a Ford Fiesta.
Christopher Michael Williams, of Marlbrook, Acrefair, sustained “unsurvivable” crush injuries in the tragic accident at a Ruabon factory.
At an inquest held in Ruthin the family of 51-year-old Mr Williams paid loving tribute to him, saying his death in 2012 has left a hole in their lives which can never be filled.
Mr Williams, a maintenance supervisor, died on December 3, 2012 while working at Morgan Technical Ceramics on Ruabon’s Vauxhall Industrial Estate.
At the time of the accident, Mr Williams had been working at a storage container looking for an item of equipment which another site run by the company had requested.
The heavy machine press, which was also in the container, toppled while being moved and struck Mr Williams.
Steven Swygart, a health and safety manager of Morgan’s at the time, told the inquest he agreed with Simon Parrington, of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), that when the accident happened the machine press had been upright and unsecured.
Mr Swygart acknowledged that in his opinion it should have been laid flat and strapped.
He also agreed the task of moving the machine press should have been contracted out to a specialist operation as the item was so large.
“It is something that will always be with me,” he said.
“I don’t understand why he did it and I guess I never will.”
Darren Nash, of the HSE, estimated the machine press weighed between 1,000kg to 1,500 kg. As a comparison, a Ford Fiesta weighs about 1,200kg.
Mr Nash said there should have been documentation of plans to carry out what was a complex lift to move the press.
Coroner John Gittins said the inquest had heard about some work practices which were not of the “gold standard” which ideally would have been achieved.
But David Wright, representing Morgan’s, stressed the company operated health and safety management systems that complied with regulatory standards.
A post mortem examination into Mr Williams’ death conducted by pathologist Dr Brian Rogers found Mr Williams died as a result of severe crush injuries to the chest.
“He would have been rendered unconscious in a matter of seconds. He has died pretty well instantaneously,” Dr Rogers said.
The inquest was shown CCTV footage of the storage container area at the time of the accident.
Dr Rogers said: “It is not entirely clear from the footage where the crush injuries occurred. It is a bit disjointed and does not flow.”
Dr Rogers said Mr Williams sustained “unsurvivable” injuries.
Tests showed there was no trace of alcohol or drugs in Mr Williams’ system. He had suffered catastrophic blood loss.
A statement from first aider Deborah Owens, who went to help Mr Williams following the accident, said there was no blood visible.
Mr Wright told the inquest that as a company Morgan’s “considered themselves to be a health and safety conscious organisation”.
He said: “My clients wish to express to the family they have treated this accident very seriously.”
Since the tragedy, the health and safety regime at the company had been upgraded, including reviewing of risk assessments, extra training courses and procedures for approving the carrying out of lifting activities.
Mr Gittins said: “There is nothing that can be said that can make things better for the family. There is a gap that can’t be filled.”
Mr Gittins said he did not feel it was necessary to compile a report over the risk of future deaths.
A jury recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
See full story in the Leader