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Firm criticised after crushed worker dies

An inquest jury examining the death of factory worker crushed by heavy steel tubes has criticised the firm for its "unstable" stacking system.


Divorcee Ronald Meese was killed in the industrial accident at Roberts Gordon Europe Ltd in Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, in July last year.

His devastated family today paid tribute to a "caring and compassionate" man.

The jury sitting at Mr Meese's inquest, which concluded yesterday, returned a verdict of death by accident, adding: "The unstable stacking system was a contributing factor."

The jury also criticised a health and safety assessment which failed to comment on the method of stacking bundles of tubes, which weigh around 440lbs each. According to evidence given by Mr Meese's former colleagues to the hearing, held at Smethwick Coroner's Court, the bundles were stacked five high with planks of wood between each level.

Mr Meese, aged 58, of Kemsey Drive in Bilston, was found by operations director Jeff Dyas lying over two bundles still on the forklift truck, with three of the bundles lying across his back.

He had been unloading a consignment of the tubes with a forklift truck when the stack toppled, crushing him.

Mr Dyas, of St James Road, Cannock, told the hearing that Mr Meese had been alive for around 10 minutes as they struggled to free him, before he passed away.

A pathologist's report found Mr Meese died of extensive multiple injuries caused by crushing.

Mr Dyas told the court external health and safety inspectors had not raised any issues with the way the tube bundles were stored. New safe working practices had been introduced, he said.

Mr Meese's sister Valerie Whitehouse said the family were "not happy" with the outcome of the inquest.

In a statement on behal f of the family, Mrs Whitehouse, of Milking Bank, Dudley, said: "Ronnie loved life and had a caring and compassionate nature. He would put himself out for anyone, be it family, friends or even strangers.

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