The family of a ‘much-loved’ father who died in an accident at work at a recycling centre say they are disappointed that an inquest jury’s conclusion has failed to provide answers on significant points raised throughout and leaves them without definitive answer as to what cost him his life.
The inquest at Carlisle Coroner’s Court recorded the death of 57-year-old Brian Tuddenham, who worked at International Rubber and Tyre Recycling Limited, as an accident. However, the Jury was unable to make a finding of fact on the cause.
Mr Tuddenham, who was employed as a workhouse operative and HGV driver, was responsible for loading and unloading trailers at the site.
His wife Lisa told the inquest that her husband “was my best friend, the kindest and most caring husband I could have ever wished for. He was the most fabulous dad to our boys.”
The inquest heard that on February 3rd, 2021 Mr Tuddenham was involved in the fatal accident at work involving a forklift truck which trapped him against a HGV loading ram and he tragically died at the scene.
A Health and Safety Executive Inspector told the inquest there were concerns over the parking brake on the forklift truck after tests were carried out.
The jury also considered evidence in relation to training and experience in the operation of forklift vehicles at the work premises and the practice and procedure for the use of forklift vehicles in general at the site as well as the inspection, monitoring and maintenance policies by the company.
It also considered whether any mechanical defects were in evidence in relation to the forklift vehicle and whether any of these contributed to Mr Tuddenham’s death.
In its conclusion, the jury said that the accelerator switch and handbrake on the forklift truck were both defective, however, they believed that the handbrake had not been engaged at the time of the incident.
The jury were unable to say, on the balance of probabilities, whether the defective accelerator switch contributed to Mr Tuddenham’s death, leaving this question unanswered.
The family of Mr Tuddenham said the Inquest had failed to get the answers they needed into why and how he had died that day.
In a family statement they said: “Brian was a hardworking, kind, funny and loving man who was loved by all who knew him.
“He lived for his family, Lisa and his boys Josh, Sean and Luke and Hannah, they all meant the world to him.
“He loved family time and cherished every minute they all spent together. We miss him every day and will love him always and forever.
“While we thank the Coroner, and the members of the Coroner’s Court, for their essential and thoughtful guidance of the process, it is disappointing that after over two-and-a-half years the jury were unable to provide clarity and we still do not know whether the defective accelerator switch found on the forklift truck contributed to the accident.
“Our thanks go to our solicitor Kerry Gillespie and Rosie Worth of Hudgell Solicitors, and our barrister Stuart McCracken, without whom we would not have been able to get to this point and who have provided invaluable support through the process.”
“Mr Tuddenham’s death was extremely tragic for both his wife and sons. This case highlights the very serious issue of ensuring proper checks and maintenance of machinery and equipment are carried out at places of work.
“Employees have a right to be safe and employers must fulfil their statutory obligations to ensure they fully comply with health and safety regulations.
“It is reasonable for workers to be confident that the heavy machinery they operate has been checked and maintained so that it is not a danger to themselves and their colleagues.
“It has been an honour to represent the family of Mr Tuddenham and I would also like to thank Stuart McCracken of Exchange Chambers.”
After Mr Tuddenham’s death his family, set-up a fundraising page in his memory which has raised almost £2,000 for the charity, Diabetes UK.
Inquest representation at Hudgell Solicitors
In appropriate circumstances we may be able to assist you with inquest representation and/or advice and assistance with criminal or health and safety proceedings brought about as a result of the accident.
Such inquests can be lengthy, detailed and complex, and you will benefit from having the support of legal experts and specialist inquest solicitors to ascertain whether more could have been done to prevent your loved one’s death.