A 27-YEAR-OLD man has died after being crushed by a forklift truck at the largest steel fabrication plant in the UK.

Kelvin McGibbon became trapped under the vehicle while working in the stores area of the 55-acre Severfield-Watson site in Dalton Airfield Industrial Estate, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, at around 8.30am this morning (Wednesday, March 13).

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service attended the scene with heavy lifting equipment before paramedics found Mr McGibbon, of Hilton Close, Brompton, near Northallerton, had suffered serious injuries.

He was flown to Leeds General Infirmary by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

A police spokesman said it had launched a joint investigation into the incident with the Health and Safety Executive.

He said: “At this stage the death is being treated as a tragic accident and no one else is being sought in connection with the incident."

The firm, which is among North Yorkshire’s biggest private sector employers with around 700 staff producing 3,200 tonnes of steel a week at its headquarters in Dalton, sent workers home following the incident.

The tragedy comes as a further blow to the firm which earlier this month announced a £23.3m pretax loss on sales of £256m, brought on by a string of loss-making contracts.

A spokesman for Severfield-Watson, which provided the structures for the Baltic Millennium Bridge, Gateshead, Arsenal's Emirates stadium, the Wimbledon Centre Court roof and the Shard of Glass skyscraper in London, said: “At this moment our thoughts are with Kelvin’s family.

“A full investigation is under way and until this is completed the company is not in a position to comment any further.”

Colleagues of Mr McGibbon said they had been stunned by the tragedy, particularly as the firm has a health and safety director, conducts forklift truck training, has monthly staff safety meetings.

One co-worker said: "We always had a joke and a chat as he got off the bus and he was a great chap to work with on the day shift. We will all really miss him."

A statement about health and safety on the firm’s website said: “The board is committed to high standards of health and safety for all of its employees.

“The group operates in a particularly risky working environment and the board is proud of its good safety record.”