Boss crush death shock

THE boss of a Doncaster pallet recycling firm was crushed to death when he tried to clear a jam in a newly-installed machine which had been causing problems.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 8:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2007, 11:50 am

A Doncaster inquest heard Terence Anthony Jackson should have switched the machine off before trying to free the blockage in the equipment which was designed to sort out good or damaged wooden pallets.

An engineer from the company who manufactured the machinery had previously warned Mr Jackson he was setting a bad example to his employees at Wheatley Pallet Services Ltd by grappling with it while it was switched on, it was claimed.

Mr Jackson, aged 54, of Reeves Way, Armthorpe, suffered fatal crush injuries to his chest and spine when he became stuck in the machine in August 2005. He died before being released by employees.

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Mr Jackson was managing director of the firm, based on the Sandall Stones Road industrial estate at Kirk Sandall, and had built it up over 14 years.

His daughter, Michelle Faulkner, of Barton Way, Armthorpe, described him as a very "hands-on" boss who was proud of his business.

One of Mr Jackson's employees, Wayne Fearon, of The Homestead, Bentley, gave evidence that the pallet destacking machine, bought from a firm in Australia, was "useless" and said no-one had been trained or given instructions about turning it off.

He was one of two workers who tugged pallets away when they realised Mr Jackson was trapped between the machine and a number of pallets.

Another worker, Danny Chappell, said a pallet had become stuck and he saw Mr Jackson bent over fixing the machine, which he had been cursing because it was jammed so often.

Paul Grady, a specialist mechanical engineer from the Health and Safety Executive, said the safety mechanism had not tripped when Mr Jackson got caught, although he was satisfied the machiney had been correctly assembled. He said no one should have been close to the machinery when it jammed until it was properly turned off.

Dr Anthony Wray, an HSE scientist who also examined the machinery, said it was still in automatic mode when Mr Jackson went into it which was "very unwise".

He believed that by trying to move the pallets by hand Mr Jackson had tricked the machine sensors that moved them automatically.

"He had inadvertently brought forward extra pallets which should not have been brought forward. He confused the logic of the machine."

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death on Mr Jackson, who was divorced.