By Oliver Farrimond & Cara Sulieman
A MAN has been killed after being crushed to death by a forklift truck at a meat factory – just a week before he was due to go on holiday.
George Hardie, 60, was struck by a forklift as he worked in the yard of Halls of Broxburn on Tuesday afternoon, and lay trapped underneath as paramedics fought to save him.
Although initially pronounced dead at the scene, Mr Hardie was soon rushed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary with a police escort after signs of life were detected, but could not be saved and finally succumbed to his wounds at 3pm.
Workers at the factory were shocked by the accident and said that one of the claims they heard were being investigated was that the forklift may have been going too fast.
“Going too fast”
One man, who did not want to be named, said: “People have been saying that the forklift was going too quickly.
“It is supposed to go down the ramp backwards but it went down forwards, and the heavy load meant the driver lost control and ran him over.”
“It’s upsetting to think about.”
Another worker revealed that Mr Hardie was just days away from having time off.
She said: “He was due to go on holiday next week, it was supposed to be somewhere in Spain, it’s a terrible thing to happen to anyone.
“My thoughts are with his family – they must be devastated.”
Police, fire and ambulances services attended the scene, and Scotland’s Health and Safety executive have confirmed that an investigation has been launched into the accident.
A spokeswoman from the Scottish ambulance service said: “A 58-year-old male had been run over by a forklift and had become stuck underneath the machine.
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
“The male was originally pronounced dead at the scene, but ambulance crews then relayed a second message saying that he was to be rushed to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary under police escort.
“This would indicate that paramedics would have detected signs of life or had been able to establish a rhythm – however the male was later pronounced dead.”
On the quiet road in Livingston where George lived with his wife Anne, the family were gathering to pay their respects.
Anne was too upset to speak about her loss, but her sister said that the family were trying to come to terms with what had happened.
The sister – who didn’t give her name – said: “We don’t know much detail about what happened at the moment. It’s a very hard time for the family, Anne is very upset.
“It was just so sudden. “
The food plant, which is owned by Dutch food giant Vion Food Group, said yesterday that they were co-operating fully with the investigation.
Rob Smith, spokesman for Vion Food Group, said: “Yesterday, at approximately 1.40pm, an accident occurred in the yard at Halls of Broxburn that involved a forklift truck.
“The police and fire services attended the incident and the casualty was removed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
“It is with the deepest regret that we have to inform you that George Hardie died at 3 p.m. yesterday – Mr Hardie had been a colleague for close on 16 years, working as a team leader in the Goods Inward department.
“All our thoughts are with Mr Hardie’s wife, family and friends at this very trying and difficult time.
“This incident is now under investigation by the Police and the Health & Safety Executive and site management is co-operating in the investigation of the incident.”
Health and Safety inspectors were investigating the scene soon after the accident, and were reportedly still on site yesterday.