A POPULAR airport worker died when he fell from the back of a lorry at Gatwick, an inquest heard on Wednesday.
Michael Miles, of Chester Avenue, Lancing, fell backwards from a height of just 4ft, hitting the side of his head on the concrete floor.
The 62-year-old was airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London and operated on, but sadly died on May 20, six days after the accident.
Mr Miles’ widow, Rosemary, described him as easy going, patient, tolerant, fiercely loyal and with a great sense of humour.
Mr Miles worked as a driver-loader, loading food and drink onto aircraft from a lorry with a specially-designed platform at the back.
The inquest heard from Roland Etherington, Mr Mile’s work partner of five years.
He said: “It was a totally normal day. The next thing I saw, his feet came down to the step below and he was propelled backwards. His head went down and hit the concrete. It as almost like he was catapulted back. I have the impression of him looking at me as he fell backwards with fear on his face.
“He didn’t say anything. I went down to him and cradled his head. I seriously thought it would be a minor accident at the time, that he would be off work for a few days and that would be it.”
The jury heard from the Health and Safety Executive’s Rebecca Dunn that Mr Miles’ employer, catering firm Gate Gourmet, had followed all legal safety requirements, and there was nothing more that could or should have been done.
Gate Gourmet’s general manager Hans-Peter Ross said the company had reviewed its operations since the accident, but no changes had been made.
He described Mr Miles as an ‘extremely competent, professional, diligent and thorough man’.
The jury heard that Mr Miles was diabetic and had suffered a series of workplace accidents and injuries dating back to 2001, but had been declared fit to work in October 2011.
Mrs Miles believes her husband’s would still be alive if he had been wearing protective headgear, and now plans to launch a campaign for compulsory head protection for all loaders.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.