Colleagues tell of sugar factory tragedy
A DRIVER of a mechanical shovel has told of the horrifying moment he accidentally ran over and killed a colleague at work. Donald Bowers told an inquest into the death of British Sugar factory despatch clerk Lorraine Waspe, that he simply did not see her.
A DRIVER of a mechanical shovel has told of the horrifying moment he accidentally ran over and killed a colleague at work.
Donald Bowers told an inquest into the death of British Sugar factory despatch clerk Lorraine Waspe, that he simply did not see her.
Mrs Waspe, 40, died after she was involved in a collision with the mechanical loading shovel in a warehouse at the company's factory in Bury St Edmunds on February 5.
She was working in an animal feed warehouse where a large mechanical shovel was used to load up lorries.
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Mrs Waspe, of Valley Lane, in Great Finborough, near Stowmarket, was an only child who came from a farming family well known in the area. She married her sweetheart Colin last year at Gretna Green.
The inquest at Bury St Edmunds yesterdayheared that shovel driver Mr Bowers drove into a storage area to load a lorry when he noticed the lorry driver was not in his cab. Drivers are meant to remain in their vehicles.
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Concerned, he wondered where the driver was and then felt something under his vehicle. When he stopped near the lorry, the driver who he had now spotted, told him he had hit Mrs Waspe.
Mr Bowers, who has driven loading vehicles for 20 years. said: "I was extremely shocked, Lorraine was so particular about health and safety and usually Lorraine would have called through on the radio when she was going to be on the store floor. I simply did not see her.
"Lorraine normally was nowhere near the store, and I had no reason to assume she would be there."
The inquest heard that Mrs Waspe had gone in to inspect some damaged pallets and had probably been heading towards the lorry driver to tell him to stay in his cab.
Lorry driver Robert Cockle said: "I was standing at the back of my trailer and saw her walking towards me. I saw the loading shovel come out, it clouted her on the head and pushed her to the floor.
"I shouted to the shovel driver, he pulled over next to me and I said you have run over Lorraine. He reversed up, got on his radio, but I don't know what he said."
Frank Sykes, a Health and Safety executive who carried out an investigation after the accident said: "There had been blind corner where pedestrians and vehicles could not see each other. There were no safe pedestrian routes protected by barriers or markings on the floor and a warning sign about the shovel was very dirty and partly obscured."
My Sykes said: "There were 350 lorries a day delivering beet to the site, 700 on a Friday and now 450 each day. It's a very busy transport operation.
"I am satisfied that steps have been taken to improve safety, the operation can be safer, the company knows that, but it takes time and it cannot all be done immediately.
"I am more than satisfied with the way they reacted to this incident."
The inquest jury were shown a seven minute video about the site and after hearing the evidence returned a verdict of accidental death. The cause of death was given as severe multiple injuries.
Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said: "Lorraine had a very conscientious approach to her job and this is a very very sad set of circumstances."
The family are still very upset by their loss and said after the inquest that they will now be taking time to think about the verdict.
The Health and Safety Executive has concluded its investigation and will issue its detailed findings at a later date.