THE parking brake on a forklift truck which rolled forward leading to a man being crushed in a tragic accident was not working correctly, an inquest heard.

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

He had been carrying out a waste removal procedure where he had emptied the contents of a hopper bin into a skip.

But unable to close the lid of the hopper bin while sitting in the forklift, he got out to manually close it. The forklift truck rolled forward and trapped Mr Hartnell in between the front of the bin, which was on the lift, and the skip.

He was found 30 minutes later by colleagues but could not be saved.

Giving evidence at the Essex Coroner’s Court, Michael Goodwin, a specialist mechanical engineer for the Health and Safety Executive, said tests had shown a screw which related to the effectiveness of the parking brake on the forklift was in a slightly wrong position according to a handbook issued by manufactures Doosan.

The forklift had been parked on a slight slope and rolled downwards towards Mr Hartnell.

He said: “The most likely reason why the vehicle rolled forward was that it was parked on a slope and the braking force generated by the parking brake was insufficient to resist the gravitational forces on the vehicle.

“The parking brake was only able to generate enough force by moving it to the fifth or sixth rachet position.”

Mr Goodwin said he believed a process employees had been using to test the parking brake where they would apply it then touch the accelerator to check the vehicle didn’t move was useless because the forklift’s power would cut out whenever the brake was on.

Service engineer Steven Mann had looked at the vehicle three months before the incident.

He had no record of adjusting the parking brake screw on the machine – but it did emerge the fleet of forklifts had their speed limiting systems tampered with.

They were all fixed but he said it was “highly unlikely” the screw could have been adjusted accidentally.

He said: “Unless you knew what it did you would not touch it.”

Mr Hartnell died of traumatic asphyxiation and compression of the neck.

Senior coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray instructed the jury to say Mr Hartnell died in an accident. Addressing his family, she said: “I would like to express sympathy to you upon the loss of your much-loved family member.

“Not only have you lost him, but you have also had the ordeal of sitting here during this inquest and you have done that with the utmost dignity. I hope you will be able to think back upon happy memories.”