Keith Jarman, of Doncaster, had been single-handedly trying to manoeuvre the produce-laden roll-cage into the Oasis convenience store in Hebden Bridge in December 2012, but in the confined space next to an internal lift, he fell down an unguarded set of steep steps.
The cage landed on him and Mr Jarman died at the scene.
A judge heard yesterday that his widow Susan was still coming to terms with her loss nearly three years after the incident.
The company which owns the small, family-run store was fined £60,000 after it admitted failing to ensure the safety of a non-employee, while Mr Jarman’s employer DHL Supply Chain Limited was fined £80,000 after it admitted a similar breach of Health and Safety at Work regulations.
Prosecutor Nicholas De La Poer told Bradford Crown Court that the lift at the Crown Street store, which was used to take goods down from street level to the basement, had been enlarged, and from January 2012 produce had been delivered in roll-cages instead of on pallets. He said the system of work for moving cages into the lift next to the unmarked and unguarded staircase was “inherently and obviously unsafe”.
The court heard that a worker at the store had suggested that moving the heavier roll-cages was a “two-man job”, but while he was in the basement he heard a loud bang and found Mr Jarman at the bottom of the stairs underneath one of the cages.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC was shown photographs of improvements made at the store following the tragedy which included the installation of a gate at the top of the stairs.
Barrister Matthew Gent, for Oasis, said the firm’s director John Gumbley had been at the store on the morning of the tragedy and the experience would live with him forever.
“All those that worked for the company found it deeply upsetting,” said Mr Gent. “This was a tragic oversight in the context of a company that overall is professionally run.”