Warehouse death was an accident

Ext pic Rawson factiry Portobello
Ext pic Rawson factiry Portobello

A MAN was crushed to death by bales of fabric while he was working.

James Nelson Welka, 61, had got out of his forklift truck to make a phone call when the bales fell on him at WE Rawsons, on Portobello Road, an inquest was told.

Mr Welka, of Walker Avenue, Peacock, was taken to Pinderfields Hospital but died from multiple injuries on died on February 22 last year.

Yesterday a jury ruled the death of Mr Welka was accidental after a two-day inquest at Wakefield Coroner’s Court.

The jury was told Mr Welka was supervising a new employee, Stefan Golec, when the bales of fabric toppled over and hit him.

Giving evidence, Mr Golec said: “I heard a noise and then a roll of rag bales fell on the side of the forklift truck.”

The hearing was told a report compiled by the Health and Safety Executive said the bales could have been dislodged by Mr Golec’s forklift truck.

But assistant deputy coroner Kevin McLoughlin ruled there was no evidence to support that theory.

John Lee, warehouse manager at Rawsons, told the hearing: “I just put it down to a horrible accident.

“I moved the forklift truck out for the police and it was not touching any bales.”

He added that in his opinion experienced forklift driver Mr Golec could not have moved the bales.

The jury was told by David Blades, operations director at Rawsons, that a new stacking system for bales of fabric, designed to ensure they did not topple over, had been brought in following the tragedy.

New rules had also been introduced to stop people walking where forklift trucks were operating.