A ‘better response’ to vehicle defects could have shown that a lorry which crushed a man at a Sheffield business yard still had a handbrake problem, an inquest jury said.
David Evans, aged 60, of Shirecliffe Lane, Pitsmoor, had been working on an unpaid basis at Bradwell Skip Services in Baker Street, Attercliffe, when he was crushed between a lorry and a digger on April 25 last year.
Jurors said Mr Evans had started the engine of the lorry from outside the cab, and that the handbrake was ‘likely’ not on when it began to move and crushed him at about 6.50am.
He was taken to the Northern General Hospital, where he died on May 10 after several operations.
Jurors at the inquest told the court the way the lorry was parked overnight, as well as how it was maintained and how defects were repaired, were all relevant to his death.
Asked by coroner Julian Fox how various factors had ‘any bearing’ on the death, jurors said: “The manner in which the lorry was parked, with wheels slightly to the right, had a bearing on how David became crushed between the lorry and the digger.”
Asked whether the driver checks employees carried out each morning had a bearing, the jury said: “Yes, because driver checks did not include the air reservoir drain valve which contributed to the APU problem, that is, the sticky handbrake.
“This in turn led to occasions of the handbrake being left off overnight.”
Asked whether vehicle maintenance had a bearing on the death, the jury said: “Yes, a better overview and response to vehicle defects could have identified that the outstanding handbrake problem had not been rectified.”
The jury also said it was ‘unclear’ whether Mr Evans’ health – a history of heart problems, a stroke, diabetes and an issue with his foot – had a bearing.
They also said it was ‘unclear’ whether the handbrake had been left on when the accident happened, due to ‘previous occasions’ it had been left off. The jury added: “When the lorry was parked overnight it is more likely than not the handbrake was left off and it was in a forward gear.
“The lorry wheels were pointing slightly to the right.
“The following morning, David approached the lorry which already had the bonnet raised and the key in the ignition.
“Shortly after, David started the engine and the lorry started moving.
“It is likely David started the engine from outside the cab.
“When the lorry began moving, the gap between the lorry and the adjacent digger narrowed and David was crushed.
“David suffered severe injuries which resulted in his death two weeks later.”