Deaths in 2001
Deaths in 2002
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FURTHER DETAILS OF DEATHS
Darren Higgins, Paul Surtees and Andrew Sherwood
Darren, Paul and Andrew, electrical maintenance engineers at the Enron power station near Redcar, were killed in an explosion while carrying out maintenance work on a transformer. The incident occurred when the men tried to 'tap' an electrical transformer manually, to balance voltages and supply power to a plant in Wilton. A fourth man was seriously burned but survived.
was held at Teeside Coroners Court in February 2003. A verdict of
'Accidental Death' was returned.
In April 2003 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided not to bring a prosecution. A spokesman said, 'Very careful consideration has been given to all the evidence surrounding this tragic incident, taking into account the Health and Safety Commission's enforcement policy, the code for Crown Prosecutors and independent legal advice.
'HSE inspectors have visited the families of Andrew Sherwood, Lawrence Paul Surtees and Darren Higgins to inform them of the decision. The HSE's decision not to prosecute does not prevent any civil claim.' the spokesman added.
After the HSE decision not to prosecute Vera Baird, MP for Redcar, said, 'I am reasonably satisfied... I have no reason to think they [the HSE] haven't carried out their investigation totally thoroughly. The question is now, are the families satisfied. I'm going to write to them and find out and then it is open to them, if they have any residual doubts, to take legal advice about whether they can bring a civil action against Enron. As far as the HSE and the public sources are concerned, I want to ascertain that they feel satisfied the job has been done properly.'
Ian Waugh, head of operations for the HSE in Yorkshire and the North East said, 'Our main investigation was completed within weeks of this tragic incident but we couldn't finish until after the inquest. We have examined the integrity of the plant in great detail... it is as good as, if not better than, other power stations in the country. This was a well planned job which went wrong in the last few minutes of the job.'
'We have to examine what the company did, what the directors did, what the individuals concerned did, leading up to the accident and compare that with what they should have done in the law. We then look at the gap between it and consider whether there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prosecution. It would be quite wrong for us to bring a prosecution against Enron.'
Norman Charles Shirley
Norman, a patient at a respite care home died after he fell from a first floor window. It was not known whether he died as a result of the fall or if he became ill before it.
The inquest was held at Hartlepool Coroners Court on 10 February 2002. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Terence, a product manager for a roof cover firm, fell off a roof despite wearing a safety harness.
The inquest was held at Hartlepool Coroners Court on 5 September2002. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Terence's employers, SGB Services Limited, appeared before Durham City magistrates in September 2003 where they admitted breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £2,447 costs.
Martin Smith, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said Mr Fagan, who was leading a team of workmen installing heavy plant machinery into the site through the roof, was a vastly experienced scaffolder. He was walking across the roof on a wooden plank, but stepped over a guardrail to pick up some materials, and fell through the perspex skylight. He said the safety harness Mr Fagan was wearing afforded 'very limited protection' from a fall.
David, an unemployed labourer, was crushed to death when he climbed into a skip to sleep off the effects of alcohol. He was emptied into a refuse wagon and was later discovered among rubbish at a tip by workers at Teeside Waste Management.
A post-mortem examination by pathologist Dr James Sunter revealed that he had suffered extensive crush injuries that would have resulted in almost immediate death.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court on 23 April 2004. An 'Open' verdict was returned.
A little while after the incident in May 2003 Middlesbrough police launched an investigation in which skips and containers were searched to see if vagrants and others were using them as makeshift overnight shelters.
George, a joiner, was electrocuted as he worked in an airing cupboard in an unfinished Yuill's house in Preston Dene, Ingleby Barwick, near Yarm, Teesside.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court in Middlesbrough on 10 December 2003. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Fellow joiner Dominic Joynes was publicly thanked by George's widow, Carol, and her family through barrister Marc Davies on the first day of a two-and-a-half day inquest. Despite receiving a shock himself through George's body, Mr Joynes attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The inquest heard that a screw used to fix plasterboard to its metal framework in a downstairs toilet had penetrated a live electricity cable. The screw, the metal studding of the plasterboard and a copper pipe leading down from upstairs where Mr Olaman had been working were all live, with electricity flowing through them.
Teesside coroner Michael Sheffield asked Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Paul Newton, 'The electricity was run through the cable, through the screws, through the studding into the copper pipe, where Mr Olaman was working ?' Mr Newton agreed.
Plasterer Alan Mole said he had been working downstairs in the house aware that Mr Olaman was in a bedroom cutting slats to fit in the airing cupboard. Mr Mole said he twice got a tingling sensation as he reached with his fingers to smooth plaster work over holes for the pipework behind radiators. He had only suspected at the time that he had received mild electric shocks. 'I was not aware it (the house) was powered up. No one told me. Normally, at that stage of a house, the power is not on.'
During the investigation into George's death, the HSE served a notice on home builders Yuill's to earth-bond all pipework. The Coroner Michael Sheffield decided to write to a number of electrical and building bodies to alert them to the possibility that more could perhaps be done to prevent the risk of electrocution arising from wall fixings becoming live when they inadvertently make contact with hidden conductors.
Lawrence died from massive head injuries after he fell as he worked with two others on erecting a scaffolding tower at the Corus Basic Oxygen Steelmaking plant at Dormanston near Redcar. But the tower being erected was not properly secured causing it to topple over taking him with it. Fellow scaffolder David Cox was also hurt in the accident after he fell and landed on a metal stairway in the pit.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court in February 2004 and returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
Lawrence worked for Plettac NSG a scaffolding firm from Deeside Wales which has since gone into liquidation. Plettac was prosecuted under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Guisborough Magistrates’ Court. The company was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,436.
The court heard that Lawrence fell ten metres from a cantilevered scaffold into a hot metal pit. The men were erecting access scaffold to provide a working platform from which to make repairs to a large iron transfer ladle. The team decided to erect cantilevered scaffolding that overhung the pit, even though this could have been avoided. Plettac had previously been prosecuted following a non-fatal fall from scaffolding.
Dr David Shallow, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told the court, 'There was a cantilever projection fitted over the pit which was inherently unsafe. This was proved when we had scaffolders erect an identical scaffold after the accident.' 'Any cantilever structure should be properly engineered and it wasn't in this case and there was concern over the training of staff on this job. The company had received advice from the HSE, but it was not fully implemented in this case,' he added.
Despite previous HSE advice there were no site-specific risk assessments and this failure to follow advice was taken into account by the court as an aggravating factor in this case.
Eirian (aka Thomas) Rees
Thomas, a corporal in the First Kings Regiment, was crushed to death when he was trapped between two armoured personnel carriers as he unloaded them from a low loader at Tee sport, Middlesborough prior to transportation to Iraq.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court on 18 August 2004 and returned a verdict of 'Misadventure'.
Thomas was in charge of unloading the vehicles at Teesport Docks, Teeside. While he guided one vehicle off a lorry, a second rolled down the ramp, crushing him between the two. The inquest jury was told he died from multiple injuries. Pathologist Dr Mark Egan told the hearing at Teeside Magistrates' Court, 'Death was inevitable. They represent unsurvivable internal injuries.' The inquest heard how Cpl Rees, who was based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, was 'exhausted' at the time of the incident.
It heard personnel from the First Battalion King's Regiment had been working all week to prepare vehicles for shipping to the Gulf. The soldiers were due to go on leave after loading before flying out to the Gulf themselves.
Health and Safety Executive inspector Ruth Bolton told the inquest that since the incident the Army has clarified its guidelines to personnel standing between vehicles which are being manoeuvred. She also said civilian contractors Elliott Sergeant, of Southampton, which moved the carriers from Catterick to the port, have also clarified guidelines so drivers do not unchain the personnel carriers until they are ready to be unloaded.
On 16 March 2007 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) called the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to its London headquarters today to answer two Crown censures (one is respect of Thomas's death and the other in respect of Robert Wilson's death in 2004), both arising from fatalities involving the use of workplace transport. HSE’s detailed investigations of these incidents brought to light significant systemic shortcomings in the corporate arrangements for assessing transport risks in the MOD. The MOD was censured under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (the HSW Act).
Whilst criminal proceedings cannot not be taken against the Crown, administrative procedures, known as Crown censures, are used in circumstances where it is HSE’s opinion that, but for Crown immunity, there would have been sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction in the courts.
Dr David Snowball, HSE’s Director for Yorkshire & North East Region, said, 'The vehicles involved in these incidents are heavy and powerful and Army personnel have to work closely alongside them. The risk of personal injury is therefore potentially high. In bringing these censures, HSE wishes to emphasise to the MOD, and other employers, the importance of assessing, managing and controlling the operational risks arising from the use of workplace transport.'
Neil was working on a new development site for Wimpey homes off the Skelton bypass near Middlesbrough. Neil and another worker were in an underground trench laying a drain for manholes, when it collapsed, killing Neil and seriously injuring the other man. They both worked for A W Cowan who were subcontracted by housebuilders George Wimpey.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court on 17 and 18 October 2005 when a jury returned an 'Open' verdict'. The inquest in Middlesbrough heard that Neil was in charge of a team of men connecting land drains on the bed of a two-and-a-half metre deep trench when one of the walls of the pit collapsed. He was engulfed by a falling wall of clay. His workmate, Karl Buck, was buried up to chest height but survived.
Specialist HSE inspector Stewart Eddie told assistant deputy Teeside Coroner Tony Eastwood, 'Supports should be provided on vertical-sided trenches more than 1.2 metres deep which men are required to enter. in my opinion, two-metre deep trenches in any soil should not be left unsupported if men are required to enter. He said collapse of the trench had been both foreseeable and preventable. The danger of workings collapsing was well recognised in building industry codes and in the paperwork of both George Wimpey and sub contractors AW Cowan. Mr Eddie said, 'There was a significant risk of collapse. Neither supports or battering or any stabilising measure was used. Workers should not have gone into the trench. In my opinion, the failures to follow the principles and measures specified in the documentation resulted in a system of work which was not properly managed and was not safe.'
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Bruno Porter said that at no time on a dozen or so visits to the site did he see any evidence of trench sheets or supports.
News that the HSE is still looking into how Neil Dunstan met his death was revealed minutes after the inquest verdict. Mr Porter said after the hearing, 'A decision as to whether any prosecution action is to be taken has not been taken. We have a few more investigations to be made.'
AW Cowan (Groundworks) Limited and George Wimpey (North East) Limited appeared at Teesside Crown Court in November 2007 for sentencing yesterday after they admitted breaking health and safety laws at an earlier hearing.
The case were brought by the Health and Safety Executive.
Ordering George Wimpey to pay £300,000, and costs of about £28,000, Judge Peter Bowers said, 'The accident was down to a very serious lapse in the safety procedures carried out by the site managers, Mr Petty and Mr Moorhead. They ignored their own safety manual, their own common sense and experience when they knew Mr Dunstan and others were working in this lethal, dangerous trench.
'I am satisfied the culpability from (AW Cowan managing director) Mr Cowan was one of ignorance of the extent of the work his men had to do on site.' AW Cowan was fined £20,000, with costs of £5,000.
The court heard that a colleague of Neil saw a crack appearing in the earth and shouted a warning. The men tried to jump clear but were engulfed in clay. Bryan Cox, prosecuting, said supports had not been used to strengthen the trench, despite an adjacent pit collapsing days earlier. The contractors were not trained to dig deep trenches and no risk assessment had been carried out.
The court was told George Wimpey site manager Gary Petty and his deputy, John Moorhead, failed to supervise the workers and insist that supports were used. It was said that an excavator working too close to the edge of the trench increased the danger.
Kevin, a plant operator, died when he was struck on the head by the arm of a bobcat, a part of a mechanical digger. A colleague, Tony Bleasby, had tried to move the bobcat, which he was not qualified to operate, so work on re-surfacing the road could continue.
The inquest at Teesside Coroners' Court, in Middlesborough opened on 19 May 2006. It heard lorry driver John Applegate say he had seen Mr Bleasby start the machine but that he did not appear to be confident. "He was pulling numerous levers to get it to move. It moved backwards and at this point a male came over and began talking to Tony - he appeared to be showing him how to operate the machine. I noticed the brushes of the machine raised in the air and the male was stood directly underneath it. I heard a commotion and Tony screaming and jumping out shouting 'I have killed him'."
During police interview Mr Bleasby said the incident happened when Kevin leant into the cab of the machine to try and move its bucket.
He said, 'He reached in and I don't know what happened. The arm just came down on his neck. It just didn't stop and I just saw his eyes close.'
A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Michael died after being crushed beneath a grain silo which fell on top of him as dismantled it. He had been working on his family's farm in Guisborough, east Cleveland, when the galvanised steel silo toppled over.
The inquest was held at Teeside Coroners Court on 2 May 2006 and returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
On the day of the incident, Michael and one of his employees, Stefan Calvert, began working in the yard to dismantle two silos. In evidence, Mr Calvert said exactly the same method was used to take both bins down, but instead of falling forward, the second bin toppled sideways, trapping Michael. Mr Calvert unsuccessfully tried to move the bin with some farm machinery. He said, 'I tried to lift the bin off Michael, but I couldn't. The weight of the bin overcame the power of the machine.'
His father, John, told the inquest it was decided to use an oxyacetylene torch to burn through four of the bins' six legs to make them fall over inwards into the yard. He said, 'I saw the remaining bin come down rather quickly and a cloud of dust, and Stefan was shouting to call an ambulance. Michael was under the bin, but I could not see any trace of him.'
Firefighters could only free Michael after cutting the silo in half to make it lighter to lift. He was pronounced dead at the scene by a doctor who had flown to the farm with the Great North Air Ambulance.
Stuart Eddie, a specialist inspector of construction health and safety, said that the 'cut and run' method used to bring down the silos was extremely dangerous. Mr Eddie said there were alternative methods which could have been used, such as working from an access platform.
Richard, known as Dick, died 10 days after fracturing his leg in a fall while working at the BASF chemical plant in Seal Sands.
was held at Teeside Coroners Court on 18 May 2007 when the jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death', after deciding Dick's death was due to the fall.
At the inquest, pathologist Ursula Earl, who carried out the post-mortem, said a plastered leg meant Dick was more prone to blood clots. If he hadn't have had the accident he would probably still be alive, she added. She said he may not have felt anything abnormal until the clot entered his lungs.
Darren was killed by falling rocks at Boulby potash mine. Cleveland Potash Limited said he had been operating equipment supporting a sidewall in a recently mined roadway at the time of the incident.
The inquest will be held at Teeside Coroners Court.
The mine, opened in 1972, is situated near the north-east coast and employs about 850 people.
More than half a million tons of salt is also mined at the site annually and this is used in road maintenance, animal feed and sugar beet cultivation.
Since the early-1990s the mine has also been a centre for scientific research into dark matter, a mysterious unseen component which forms most of the universe. Detectors have been installed in a sub-surface observatory in the hope of finding out more about the matter, which is almost impossible to detect in a laboratory on the Earth's surface.