Worker died after forklift load fell

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A husband has told an inquest of the heartbreaking moment he saw his wife’s face after the contents of a pallet fell on top of her causing fatal injuries.

Desanka Todorovic, 44, died at Kettering General Hospital from multiple injuries after a load from a forklift truck toppled and landed on her, the inquest heard.

Croatian-born Mrs Todorovic and her husband Jovan Todorovic worked together at Merley Paper Converters in Pilot Road, Corby, and lived together in Croyde Avenue in the town.

Mrs Todorovic, a production packer for the printing firm, had gone to the warehouse to request boxes on March 16, 2009.

A translated statement from her husband was read out at her inquest at Northampton Crown Court yesterday. He said he heard a “thud” and turned to see forklift truck operator Dominic South jump out of his cab and start removing fallen boxes. When he began to help he found his injured wife beneath the load.

He said: “As soon as I saw her my knees buckled. I think I lost consciousness for a short time.”

The only word the limited English-speaker could understand when doctors came to talk to him at the hospital was “dead”.

He said: “Even days after I lost my wife I could not accept she is not here any more.”

Mr South said he had requested to take a forklift truck licence test, but had not done so at the time of the incident. He was due to take it in the summer.

A licence is not required to operate a forklift truck if the driver is supervised.

While being watched by supervisor Daniel Cruse, Mr South said he heard a click as he tried to lift the pallet containing the boxes seconds before some fell.

When asked by Northamptonshire’s assistant deputy coroner Tom Osborne whether the noise was the racking coming apart he responded “possibly”.

Health and Safety Executive engineering inspector Dominic Swan examined the scene and saw a lack of bolts in the racking. Dr Swan said it was possible the load itself, or the backrest of the forklift truck, hit the racking.

He said: “I believe the poor installation of the racking was a significant contributory factor to the accident.”

Managing director and one of the firm’s founders Allan Dyson told the inquest Lloyds Employment Law carried out regular health and safety inspections for the firm. He had not been made aware bolts missing from in the racking where the pallets were stored.

The court was told by former employee Trevor Varley, that he and Mr Cruse installed the racking around 2008. Mr Cruse said in his statement: “I mentioned to Trevor at the time we were short of locking pins. He said he would get some ordered.”

The inquest, which is being heard before a jury, is expected to conclude today.