A FORKLIFT truck driver was crushed to death after becoming trapped between a skip and large bin, an inquest has heard.

Martyn Hartnell, who was 44, died following an incident at the Hand 2 Mouth factory on the Bluebridge Industrial Estate in Halstead on July 30 last year.

An inquest into Mr Hartnell’s death began at Essex Coroner’s Court yesterday and heard from Health and Safety Executive inspector Adam Hills who said Mr Hartnell had been carrying out a typical waste removal procedure in the moments before his death.

The warehouse operator had emptied the contents of a hopper bin into a skip with the help of a forklift truck.

Mr Hartnell then attempted to close the lid of the hopper bin whilst sat in the truck but had to get out of the vehicle after it had shifted out of position.

Mr Hills said: “Eventually after a few attempts, Mr Hartnell reversed the vehicle away from the skip. He exited the vehicle and then went on to manually lift the hopper back into position.

“In doing so, he positioned himself between the hopper, forklift truck and the skip.

“It was as he was partially lifting the bin back to its closed position that the forklift truck rolled forward and trapped Mr Hartnell in between the front of the bin and skip.”

Mr Hartnell was the only employee in the warehouse at the time and was not found until 30 minutes after he became trapped.

Colleagues worked to release him before performing CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Speaking during yesterday’s hearing, coroners officer Kirsty Roberts said: “A post mortem examination was carried out by forensic pathologist Dr Swift.

“Toxicology samples were taken and Dr Swift found the cause of death was traumatic asphyxiation and compression of the neck.”

Mr Hartnell’s colleague James Anderson told the inquest he and another colleague became aware of the situation when he heard cries for help.

He said: “When we ran in I could see Martyn trapped. It looked like he was just standing there and all I could really see was his legs.

“We were all in shock. I ran over to see if he was all right but he wasn’t moving. I could see the skip was against his neck.”

Mr Anderson paid tribute to Mr Hartnell and said his death had impacted many people working at the industrial estate. He added: “It has affected a lot of people because he was such a friendly guy. He would always stop to have a chat with you and say hello.”

  • The inquest will continue today.