THE widow of a man crushed to death in a horrific industrial accident today told how he was “done out of life” as his former employer was hit with a £100,000 fine over his death.
Grieving Anne Hardie welcomed the severe penalty imposed on the Broxburn meat factory where her husband, George, died when he was struck by a badly-loaded forklift while walking across the yard, but said no amount of money would bring him back.
Mr Hardie, 60, had been delivering paperwork to an office at Vion Food Scotland Ltd when he was run over and crushed beneath the forklift, whose driver failed to see him.
Mrs Hardie, from Livingston, said: “George was a very fit and healthy man. He swam three times a week around 50 or 60 lengths at a time and he went cycling often. We were about to go on holiday to Cornwall when the accident happened and at the time I was annoyed because I was thinking ‘could you not have waited until he’d had his holidays?’
“It was a dreadful shock when he died and it’s still a terrible loss for us but there’s not really more you can say about it.
“I just feel he was done out of life and someone as fit and healthy as George should have lived a bit longer – he always said he planned to live forever.”
Father-of-two Mr Hardie was found lying on his back with his lower half trapped beneath the forklift truck after the driver, whose view was obscured by two large containers stacked on top of each other, ran into him on June 2, 2009.
Workmates tried to free him, but after fire crews had released his body paramedics could find no signs of life and he was pronounced dead at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
At Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday, Vion Food pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Asked if the £100,000 fine was adequate, Mrs Hardie said: “There’s always the temptation to say ‘Is that all a man’s life is worth?’ but that’s just rubbish really. No-one could every give enough money for a man’s life.
“It’s more than I was expecting them to be fined so we are quite pleased.”
After the hearing, Peter Dodd, a Health and Safety Executive inspector, said Mr Hardie would “still be alive today” if Vion had “taken simple steps to keep their employees safe”.
“Forklifts were being moved around the yard with loads that meant the drivers could not clearly see where they were going,” he said.
“At the same time, employees were walking through the same yard, with no separation between them and the traffic, and no more protection than a high-visibility jacket.
“The company should have taken steps to make sure the containers were being moved in a safe way, and managed the traffic in the yard so that people and vehicles were not sharing the same space.”
A spokesman for Vion Food Scotland Ltd said: “We would take this opportunity to express publicly that which has already been expressed privately to the Hardie family, namely the very deep regret that all involved in the running of the company feel about the incident.”