Trucker pinned, killed by warehouse forklift

| 2/7/2007

Police say a trucker was killed at a Manchester, NH, warehouse earlier this week after being pinned by a forklift - the second trucker in a week to die because of a forklift-related incident.

Roger West, 58, of Connecticut, died at a hospital Monday, Feb. 5, after being pinned by a forklift as he stood outside his truck, according to Sgt. Maureen Tessier, a Manchester Police spokeswoman.

Officers responded to a 9-1-1 call at about 8 a.m. Monday at the Northstar Steel and Aluminum Inc. factory, and learned West already had been taken to an area hospital, Tessier said.

Police believe West was standing near his truck when a forklift came by and pinned him against his truck, Tessier said. Police handed the investigation over to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration after determining West's death was an accident.

West was making a delivery at the industrial building, though police don't know who he worked for, Tessier said.

"It has all the makings of a workplace accident," Tessier said. "It's more appropriate for OSHA to investigate."

The investigation will likely be completed in one to two months, said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's New Hampshire area director, who declined to reveal other details about Tuesday's incident.

Just last week, authorities in Yuma, AZ, investigated the death of trucker Sheila Ross after Ross was crushed by a forklift loading lettuce onto a trailer at a Dole Food Co. plant. Ross was discovered three days later as the trailer was being unloaded in Iowa.

Ohar's office started a program in 2002 to perform surprise inspections of warehouses because of the high number of forklift-related accidents occurring in New Hampshire, she said.

"We have seen so many fatalities and accidents with the use of industrial trucks we developed a local emphasis program," Ohar said.

OSHA's Web site states that the agency fined Northstar Steel and Aluminum $4,725 for 11 safety violations in 2000, including one related to powered industrial trucks.

- By Charlie Morasch, staff writer