Inquiry finds fatal accident was down to brake not being on

James McLean died while repairing a forklift at the James Callander & Son sawmill in Falkirk in January last year. Picture: Michael Gillen
James McLean died while repairing a forklift at the James Callander & Son sawmill in Falkirk in January last year. Picture: Michael Gillen

A fatal accident inquiry has determined that the death of a forklift repair worker was down to human error and not a mechanical fault.

James McLean from Bainsford died when he was crushed between the forklift he was fixing and a van at the James Callander & Son sawmill in Abbots Road, Falkirk on January 13 last year.

Mr McLean, a triplet known as Jamie who was just 22 at the time of his death, later died in Forth Valley Royal Hospital following fatal compression to his chest.

Sheriff Christopher M Shead concluded having considered the evidence given to the inquiry that “had the deceased applied the parking brake on the fork lift truck which he was repairing the accident would not have occurred”.

Sheriff Shead also determined there “was no defect in any system of working which contributed to his death”.

Mr McLean was a “valued employee” for Valmar Handling Services Ltd as a fork lift engineer when the tragic accident occurred and was there to service nine fork lift trucks between January 11 and 13, 2016.

He parked his van next to a ‘Terra’ fork lift truck to fix a faulty fuel gauge, but at around 1.20pm James Callander & Son employee Gordon Beattie, “saw the deceased trapped between the side of the fork lift truck and the transit van” and was “turning purple”.

Mr Beattie and colleague Alan Paterson turned the engine of the fork lift off and had to use another fork lift to move the van away, by which time the deceased unconscious.

An ambulance was called and Mr McLean, but he was later pronounced dead in hospital at 2.05pm.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspector Michelle Gillies concluded that as Mr McLean tried to identify the source of the fork lift’s problem, it’s possible, while standing outside of the vehicle and operating the controls manually, “that the deceased might have knocked the vehicle into forward drive”.

HSE Specialist Inspector Peter Dodd also gave evidence to the inquiry following his investigation on the fork lift following the death of James McLean.

He found that more modern versions of the fork lifts have a safety device fitted that prevent the vehicle moving forward unless someone is actually sitting in the seat, but found “no fault with the truck itself”.