A FACTORY worker has described the horrifying moment he found his colleague crushed beneath a 3.4-tonne forklift truck at work.

Truck driver Wayne Riggall was discovered by a colleague trapped beneath the machine which appeared to have fallen on its side at Walstead Bicester printing factory, formerly known as Wyndeham.

An inquest at Oxford Coroner's Court heard today how the 42-year-old, whose partner was pregnant, was thought to be working overtime at the Launton Road site when it happened in the last hour of his 12-hour shift on July 23 last year.

The court heard how dedicated worker Mr Riggall, who lived at South Street in Banbury, was tasked with collecting two long rolls of paper in preparation for printing Women's Weekly that evening, each roll weighing roughly 1,400kg.

CCTV showed him entering the warehouse of the factory, which prints up to 200 million A4 pages a day, while driving a type of forklift truck called a clamp truck, which uses a clamp attachments rather than the forks.

The incident itself was unwitnessed, and as it was a death in the workplace the inquest has been heard in front of a jury.

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The inquest heard from Mr Riggall's colleague Gary Nelson, a press assistant at the factory, who was the first person to discover his co-worker trapped beneath the truck shortly after 6pm.

Describing the shocking moment, Mr Nelson said he had asked Mr Riggall earlier that evening to help move one of the paper rolls. It was when he went to check on his progress that he discovered his co-worker pinned beneath the truck.

He said: "About 6pm I realised he hadn't moved the roll so thought I would walk over... to see what he was up to.

"When I walked in I could hear the humming of the clamp but I couldn't see it."

Mr Nelson said he turned the corner to see the clamp truck on its side with the clamps still running.

Oxford Mail:

Unable to see Mr Riggall he shouted out to him, then walked closer and found him trapped under the vehicle.

He said: "There was a cut on his head and the cab was across his chest. I have never seen anything like it before, there wasn't anything I could do. He looked peaceful."

The worker was pronounced dead at the scene by ambulance workers.

A statement from Thames Valley Police detective constable Christ Whitewell added that the worker was found with 'catastrophic injuries' and that it wasn't clear whether Mr Riggall was inside or outside the vehicle as it toppled.

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The inquest heard how Mr Riggall had been using the clamps of the truck to collect two rolls of paper from a stack of eight rolls – a task 'well within' the truck's weight and height limits.

The Health and Safety Executive has worked with police to investigate the incident, and police concluded no suspicious circumstances and no third party involvement.

As the incident was unwitnessed nobody is able to say what happened, but another co-worker – paper logistics manager Kevin Bagley – who was not at work when it happened but spoke at the inquest today, was asked to speculate how such a machine and the paper rolls could topple.

The worker, who has been at the factory for 38 years, said if the two rolls collected by the clamp truck clipped those below it could have toppled the tower of rolls. He also said that if the clamp truck began to turn and drive with the collected paper rolls still extended at height, it could have caused the machine to topple.

It is not known if this is exactly what lead to Mr Riggall's death.

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A post mortem report concluded the cause of death to be 'massive trauma', particularly injuries to his chest indicative to crushing.

Questions were raised about whether Mr Riggall was thought to have been wearing a seatbelt across his lap at the time, having been found outside the truck.

The inquest heard from a number of workers who said it was not common practice to see drivers without seatbelts on.

Colleague Mr Nelson added: "He [Mr Riggall] never had issues with work, he was not a moaner, he just come in and got on with his work."

The inquest is due to conclude tomorrow.