Safety Fears after Teen Crushed by Forklift on Norfolk Farm

A coroner has raised safety concerns following the death of a teenager who was crushed by a forklift truck less than a month after starting a new job.

Zach Richardson, 18, from Lincolnshire, was found trapped between the truck and a wall at Elm Farm near Shipdham, Norfolk, on 24th October 2020.

An inquest held in Norwich last week concluded his death was and accident. In a report, senior coroner for Norfolk, Jaqueline Lake, warner of risk of future deaths “unless action is taken”.

Mr Richardson’s medical cause of death was recorded as compression asphyxia.

Among Ms Lake’s concerns was that a seat safety switch on the forklift truck that should have prevented it from moving when no-one was in the driver’s seat “had been defeated at some point prior to the incident” and was “defective”.

The inquest heard that a health and safety consultant “visited the sites at Lincs Firewood and Dodds and Son in October and November 2020” following Mr Richardson’s death and “found there was little understanding of the importance of health and safety”, she said.

In her report, Ms Lake said Mr Richardson completed a two-day theory and practical training course on operating forklift trucks on 18 October. On 24th October, Mr Richardson “was alone from approximately 1551 hours until 1713 hours. At approximately 1716 hours Mr Richardson was found trapped between a forklift truck and a wall.

“Mr Richardson suffered fatal injuries and was declared dead at the scene.”

Copies of the report were sent to Lincs Firewood Co Ltd, DD Dodds and Son Ltd and Mr Richardson’s employer Evan Jenkins. They are required to respond within 56 days of the date of the report, by 21 November, detailing the action taken or proposed to be taken.

In a statement following the conclusion of the inquest, they said: “Zach was a well-liked and valued employee. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. The companies have fully cooperated with the investigation and the inquest process, and will continue to do so.”