Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Man crushed to death by forklift

Harry George died when a forklift crushed him at United Containers' yard in Mt Wellington. Photo / Chris Loufte
Harry George died when a forklift crushed him at United Containers' yard in Mt Wellington. Photo / Chris Loufte

A man killed when an industrial forklift fell on him on Saturday morning was a fun-loving golfer who was admired for his positive attitude.

Harry George, 67, of Onehunga was killed when a forklift he was working under fell on top of him.

George was servicing the large forklift, used to move shipping containers, when the machine slipped from supports, crushing him.

Counties Manukau Senior Sergeant Ian Brenchley said George had the front wheels off the machine and it was propped up by wooden blocks a metre square.

"It would appear the wooden blocks have collapsed under the weight of the forklift. Whether they have been crushed by the weight of the forklift or have slipped out - that is for the Department of Labour to investigate."

Workmates at the yard used another forklift to lift the machine off George.

"It is not the kind of forklift truck you see out on the road, it is one that has the big wide arms which lifts shipping containers and it can stack them right up, so it is obviously quite big," Brenchley said.

"They used another forklift to lift it off him."

The accident happened at the United Containers' yard in Mt Wellington which uses Fowlers Machinery maintenance engineers to service its forklifts.

George's boss at Fowler Machinery, also in Mt Wellington, said the accident was a huge shock.

"It is terrible, nightmare news," John Fowler said. "Harry was a respected team member who was a lot of fun. He was bright and breezy and always looking forward to tomorrow."

Fowler said the keen golfer, originally from South Africa, was always bringing in trophies he had won from the Waitemata Golf Club. "He was amazing and a keen golfer, he was proud of his family and his sport. He will be sadly missed."

Fowler said the company was 50 years old and had a spotless safety record.

"We have never even had a crushed finger and then this. It is a very sad day for us," Fowler said. "We have a lot of safety protocols because we understand how dangerous the industry is. We have had 50 years of no problems but this is a massive one, it is shattering."

Fowler said his thoughts were with George's New Zealand-based wife and his children overseas.

Yard manager at United Containers, Mark Harvey, would not comment.

- Herald on Sunday

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