Man crushed to death in a tragic accident

A pet food factory worker who died after his neck was crushed by a sliding door on a mixing machine was the victim of a tragic accident, a jury ruled.

Terry Gardiner, 61, of Cowslip Close, Ipswich, died following an incident at HG Gladwell & Sons in Old London Road, Copdock on May 19 last year.

An inquest into Mr Gardiner’s death, which concluded yesterday, heard that Mr Gardiner had been trying to retrieve an oil drum that had got stuck inside the machine, which was used for mixing bird feed.

Colleagues found Mr Gardiner’s head and right arm trapped inside the machine through a hatch. A sliding door had closed on Mr Gardiner, trapping him on the neck.

Mr Gardiner, who had worked for the company as a mill supervisor since 1995, was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

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Dr Nat Carey, who carried out a post mortem on Mr Gardiner, said the cause of his death had been compression of the neck and that none of his injuries suggested self-harm.

David Rudland, an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive, said Mr Gardiner could have been looking into the machine to locate the oil drum, when he activated the sliding door by mistake.

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Mr Rudland said: “I think while he was there he accidentally kicked the switch to the hatch and the door closed on him.” Mr Rudland added that there was no operations manual for the machine in the factory and there was nothing to prevent a person from getting trapped in the machine.

Mark Gladwell, the Managing Director for HG Gladwell & Sons, said that staff were constantly consulted about safety procedures and received training that was “more than adequate.”

When asked whether it would have been safer to have two people constantly working on the machine, Mr Gladwell replied: “It’s not something we would consider necessary.”

After deliberating for an hour and a half the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Mr Gardiner’s family thanked Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean for conducting a “thorough” inquest, but declined to comment on the verdict.

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