cheese
Robert Cermuga, 32, died under the weight of 40 tonnes of cheeseArnd Wiegmann/Reuters

A man was crushed to death by 40 tonnes of cheese in a tragic workplace accident, an inquest heard.

Robert Cermuga, 32, was working at a storage warehouse in Dublin when a wall of shelving supporting pallets of cheese collapsed and killed him on 28 November 2016.

Yesterday (19 March) his wife Maria said in a statement, read by her solicitor, that Cermuga left behind a four-month-old daughter when he died.

"She was his pride and joy. I lost my best friend and my entire world. He was ambitious and hardworking. He was an exceptional man. I think about him every day," she said, as reported in The Irish Times.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

It heard that a forklift driver working in the warehouse had not been properly trained. Cermuga had entered the storage room at VP Foods, Jamestown Business Park, to ask the driver if he had taken his break.

The driver was about halfway through moving 80 pallets of cheese – each weighing a tonne – from bays of shelving in the cold store.

The inquest heard that it was unclear whether the shelves collapsed under the weight of the pallets or because the driver knocked them with his forklift.

Health and safety inspector Frank Kerins said: "The whole thing started to sway and the pallets started coming down . . . it was all top-heavy, once it buckled, it was not able to take the weight.

"Forty pallets came down. The whole room was a mangled mess of pallets. It all came down very quickly."

The driver was able to flee his vehicle and escape without being injured but Cermuga was unable to do the same. He died from crush injuries to the head and chest.

The jury recommended that forklift training be provided to all operators in future and that more care should be taken when adjusting racking systems.