Killed worker ‘not meant to be in crane’s area’

In­spec­tor tells in­quiry 62-year-old had not been asked to help with re­pairs

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - TIM BUGLER

A main­te­nance man work­ing on the Queens­ferry Cross­ing was killed by the fall­ing jib of an 18 tonne crane af­ter en­ter­ing an area he was not sup­posed to be in and “in­volv­ing him­self” in the re­pair of the ma­chine without be­ing asked, a court heard yes­ter­day.

Is­abelle Martin, the Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive’s prin­ci­pal in­spec­tor for the con­struc­tion in­dus­try in Scot­land, told the clos­ing stages of a fa­tal ac­ci­dent in­quiry into the death of the worker, John Cousin, that she and col­leagues had as­sessed the ev­i­dence sur­round­ing the tragedy as part of a “wide-rang­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion”.

She said Mr Cousin, 62, was a “highly skilled and ex­pe­ri­enced fit­ter” em­ployed by the con­sor­tium build­ing the bridge, Forth Cross­ing Bridge Con­struc­tors (FCBC), to main­tain and re­pair their own equip­ment, mainly gen­er­a­tors.

But she said, although he had worked on large ma­chin­ery on con­struc­tion projects all over the world, in­spec­tors could find no ev­i­dence that he had any past ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing on “small” cranes such as the one in­volved in the tragedy.

On April 28 2016 he sus­tained “un­sur­viv­able in­juries” af­ter the 550kg jib of the hired Gi­raf track crane fell on him while a fit­ter for the ma­chine’s own­ers, Ste­wart Clark, was pre­par­ing to re­place a leak­ing hy­draulic hose.

Miss Martin said the ac­ci­dent oc­curred when Mr Cousin re­moved a cen­tral pin se­cur­ing the jib without be­ing asked. The heavy jib, de­signed to swing out­wards on ny­lon rollers, sim­ply fell from its hous­ing and struck him.

Miss Martin added: “There is no ev­i­dence to demon­strate Mr Cousin was asked to take part in any main­te­nance on the crane by his em­ployer, or by the crane own­ers GGR.

“The area around the crane was cor­doned off with a red and white chain and other large struc­tures.

“Such a chain would widely be recog­nised by any­one work­ing in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try as a phys­i­cal bar­rier pre­vent­ing ac­cess to an area.

“Mr Cousin would be ex­pected to know this, and there­fore that he should not go into that area.”

Last week Mr Clark, who still suf­fers from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der as a re­sult of the in­ci­dent, told how he saw Mr Cousin, who came from Northum­ber­land but had a flat in Dun­fermline, ly­ing bleed­ing on the bridge deck, with what turned out to be mor­tal wounds.

The ev­i­dence stage of the in­quiry, at Stir­ling Sher­iff Court, closed af­ter Miss Martin’s ev­i­dence.

Sher­iff Wil­liam Gilchrist will give his de­ter­mi­na­tion in writ­ing later.

Pic­ture: Cen­tral Scot­land News Agency

Ste­wart Clark was with Mr Cousin when the 550kg jib fell on him leav­ing him with un­sur­viv­able in­juries.

John Cousin had worked on projects around the world.

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