Killed worker ‘not meant to be in crane’s area’
Inspector tells inquiry 62-year-old had not been asked to help with repairs
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.
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.