Deaths in 2001
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FURTHER DETAILS OF DEATHS
Dewi, a Llanrhaedr farmer, became trapped in an agricultural machine pulled by a tractor whose handbrake failed causing it to roll over him on a slope while he was trying to clear earth from it. He died a day later after an operation to treat injuries to his left leg and right arm on the 10 July.
An investigation carried out on the tractor revealed the hand brake was damaged, meaning it would not hold the vehicle in place, while a report by Health and Safety Executive inspector Clive Brookes revealed the vehicle had been left on a slight slope.
was held at North East Wales Coroners Court on 28 November 2001.
A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Iorwerth Maelor Lewis
Iorwerth, a self-employed farmer, was killed by a trailer which had been placed on blocks for repair falling on him.
The inquest was held at North East Wales Coroners Court on 17 October 2001.
The Coroner John Hughes decided that Iorwerth, a retired farmer and not in employment, was not engaged in work activities at the time of the incident. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Elizabeth and Daniel, two teenagers entered a storage hut to be alone at Eirias Park run by Colwyn Leisure Services. An 11 year old boy set fire to the hut which contained highly flammable material such as polyurethane gymnasium crash mats resulting in their deaths on 23 October 2001. The boy who cannot be named for legal reasons admitted he started the fire deliberately but claimed no knowledge that there were people inside the hut.
An inquest found that the local authority had failed to follow basic safety rules which resulted in the deaths. The hut itself had been left open and gym mats, plastic chairs, wood and road cones were all stored together. The mats were stored in piles exposing their greater surface to the blaze rather than on their edges.
The inquest was held at North Wales Central Coroners Court on 21 May 2002. During the inquest North Wales Central Coroner John Hughes criticised the council for not being aware of a 1988 fire service circular which advised storing combustible materials separately.
Assistant director of Conwy Council's leisure department, Paul Frost, also conceded that there was still no health and safety risk assessment on the storeroom.
But Coroner John Hughes pressed him, 'If these premises had been secure, Kirsty and Daniel would not have been able to get in there. It's as simple and prosaic as that?'
Mr Frost replied, 'Yes.'
Recording a verdict of 'Accidental Death', Mr Hughes said he would write to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the case.
Principal HSE inspector Dr Stephen Coppell said it was highly unlikely any action would be taken despite Mr Hughes' concerns. He said, 'Unless significant new evidence emerges to indicate that the council is directly responsible for the death, it is highly unlikely that any further action will be taken by HSE in this matter.' Dr Coppell said it was evident the fire had been caused by arson and not by any work related activity.
But Daniel's mother, Hazel Cleverley, of Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay, was furious with the HSE's decision. Daniel's father, David, branded their decision not to prosecute Conwy Council as laughable
Frank, a former shepherd, died of injuries after he was hit by an off-road vehicle at the St Asaph livestock market.
The incident happened on private land owned by auctioneers Jones Peckover for whom Frank occasionally worked. It is thought that Frank had bent down to pick up pieces of a mug left by vandals in the livestock market yard when he was struck by the vehicle.
The inquest was held at Central North Wales Coroners Court on 12 March 2003.
The driver of the vehicle which struck Frank, Berwyn Spencer, told the inquest he was six feet off the ground behind his steering wheel and did not see Frank. Ivor Lowe, of Llanfair TH, told the the hearing he had asked Frank to help him collect rubbish and old cups from the pens.
The Coroner John Hughes sitting in Prestatyn recorded a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
Gareth, a popular farm mechanic, was found dead at Gyfelia Farm, near Llangollen, under a Bobcat mini digger he was working on.
The inquest was held at North East Wales Coroners Court on 3 June 2003. A verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Thomas Glyn Jones
Thomas, a mechanic with Lletty Euros at Pant-y-Ffrith near Rhosesmor, was killed when he was trapped under a lorry he was working on.
The inquest was held at North East Wales Central Coroners Court on 8 October 2003 when an 'Accidental Death' verdict was returned.
Robert, a construction worker, subcontracted to T. S. David Construction at Cefnisa Glynceririog near Chirk, Wrexham died from a fall while working on the renovation of a barn removing asbestos panels.
was held at North East Wales Coroners Court on 29 October 2004 when an 'Accidental Death' verdict was returned.
Marc, a Belgian steel fitter, was working on a platform on the top of a 230 foot steel tower at Castle Cement, Padeswood, Mold. He fell approximately 30 ft inside a kiln.
The inquest was held at the North East Wales Coroner's Court at Flint in May 2005 when a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rogers told the court that Marc had fallen striking support structures within the tower. Marc had been wearing safety equipment, but it was not known if his harness was attached when he fell.
Marc's colleague Udo Vonberg said, 'It was raining heavily - I was clipped on by my safety harness. I didn't see when Marc fell, but I heard him give a loud cry. I could do nothing to help him because of the bad weather conditions. The surface of the platform was very slippery.'
North East Wales Coroner John Hughes told the inquest jury that it was not a case where they had to decide if anyone was at fault.
Gerallt was driving a tractor down a steep and narrow lane at Nant Bwlch yr Haearn, just above the A5 between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig, when it overturned. Gerallt had been towing a trailer laden with logs.
The inquest opened at the North Wales central Coroner's Court in Prestatyn on 19 July 2005.
Gordon Carran told police investigators that he and Gerallt had been working with tree surgeon Andrew Fowler. Gordon had gone on ahead to prevent vehicles driving up the lane as Gerallt came down it towards the A5. He was driving in the lowest gear possible, maybe as slowly as 1.5 mph. He remembered Andrew shouting that the tractor had overturned despite the trailer remaining upright.
Collision investigator PC James Noble said there were no seat-belts or restraints fitted to the tractor, which was exempt, and Gerallt may have tried to jump out of the cab.
Police vehicle examiner Kenneth Stone said extensive tests on the tractor and trailer revealed the tractor's hydraulic braking system was faulty and fluid contamination showed it was a long-standing defect. 'It would have been a contributory factor to the accident,' he said.
John Hughes the North Wales Central Coroner recorded a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
Mr Owen was fined £400, with £30 costs, for the faulty brakes and was handed three penalty points on his driving licence. Llandudno magistrates heard the cause of the incident may never be found.
The police prosecution said the tractor may have mounted a grass verge and fell on to its near side. The brakes were checked by a qualified mechanic six months previously, a matter still being investigated by police.
The fine handed to Mr Owen was the same as for any normal case involving defective braked the court heard.
Kenny was a lorry driver at the Longslow Dairy in Mochdre North Wales. He had been working there for less than a month when he was crushed to death. He was apparently getting into or out of his lorry when it began to roll back, lodging against three trailers and trapping Kenny in the door.
Two other serious incidents have occurred at the dairy in the past two years.
The inquest was held at the North Wales Central Coroner's Court in Llandudno on 28 October 2005 when the jury returned a verdict of 'Accidental Death'. The inquest heard that Kenny was asphyxiated when he became wedged in his HGV cab door.
Accident investigator PC Gordon Saynor believed Kenny started the engine and got out to carry out other work. The air brakes released automatically when air pressure reached a certain level. When the brakes released, PC Saynor said, Kenny managed to stop the truck but became wedged in the cab door as it rolled forward against another vehicle.
The coroner John Hughes said if a simple safety button had been in place Kenny would still be alive. Mr Hughes said, 'Why wasn't there a fail safe that meant when the brakes went off automatically it wouldn't move? I am told all it needs is a circuit and a button which the driver would press to move off. Volvo vehicles have such a fail safe mechanism built in. It is on the way for other vehicles but European rules and red tape are delaying it. If it had been in place then Kenny Blacoe would be alive today.'
Speaking after the inquest Kenny's wife Cheryl added her support for the call. 'It needs to be brought in sooner rather than later,' she said..
Health and Safety inspector Stephen Window who investigated the case said, 'We would support the call for this to be standard on all these vehicles. And companies introducing the measures we would applaud.'
Mark died after an explosion at the metal company in North Wales. Mark died from 90 per cent burns and inhaling high temperature fire gasses at Deeside Metals, Saltney when aerosols he was crushing, ignited, creating a fire-ball that set him on fire.Four other workers were treated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation. The fire service said it was called to the factory at about four o'clock in the afternoon and sent four pumps to tackle the subsequent blaze.
Mark was treated at the Countess of Chester Hospital following the explosion but died of his injuries during the night.
Following his death, Mark's parents Dorothy and Douglas Wright campaigned for stronger legislation to prevent deaths in the workplace. They went to Parliament and lobbied for amendments to the then Corporate Manslaughter Bill. They believed the Bill was not strong enough to hold employers to account when employees died.
The Wrights want directors held legally and criminally responsible for the health and safety of their workforce, not simply the company which could only be fined.
An inquest was opened at the North East Wales Coroner's Court in January 2007. In May 2006 the Coroner John Hughes was told the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided there was no case to bring manslaughter charges following Mark's death.
But in December Mr Hughes revealed he was told by police that following a meeting with the family, North Wales Police carried out a review of the police investigation. That review, by a senior officer, concluded that a further eight witnesses should be interviewed.
Detective Inspector Vaughan told the Coroner that it was possible the matter would be re-referred to the CPS. Subsequently, however, the CPS confirmed that there would be no charges.
In February 2009 after a two week inquest held at the Cheshire Coroner's Court in Macclesfield Town Hall, the Coroner, Nicholas Rheinberg, told the jury that to return a verdict of unlawful killing they must unanimously agree and be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt.
Instead, they delivered a Narrative verdict which gave details of the journey of the aerosols from Mold-based Jeyes, via haulier Ray Morgan, to Deeside Metal where Mark was told to crush them in a baling machine.
In their verdict the jury said, 'For a period of time preceding April 7, 2005, a large quantity of unmarked, sealed canisters inside unmarked drums, were stored in the waste yard of an industrial site together with drums for recycling. On April 7, 2005, these unmarked canisters were transported from their place of origin without any supporting documentation as to the nature of the canisters or their contents. There was no record that the canisters had left their place of origin and they were not recorded in the documentation for the consignment.
'The staff responsible for waste management at the site of origin had not been trained formally in waste practice, systems or procedures or the vetting and management of contractors used for the transport of waste from the site. The waste drums and sealed containers were accepted at the scrapyard on the basis of unsubstantiated verbal assurances from the haulier.
'Superficial tests by untrained staff at the yard did not identify the hazardous nature of the contents of the canisters.
'On the afternoon of April 12, 2005, Mark Wright was instructed to bale the sealed canisters in the small electric baling machine. He was assisted by the general manager until he was called away. Neither wore the protective clothing required by the manufacturers’ manual.
'As a result of the baling operation, flammable liquids and gases were released. At approximately 16.22pm an explosion was heard and Mr Wright was seen to be on fire.'
Following the inquest, the family’s solicitor, Liz Graham, said, 'Mark’s widow and family would like to thank the coroner for his care, his courtesy and his determination to uncover the circumstances which led to Mark’s death.
'The verdict means that the jury were not satisfied that there was enough evidence to indicate that, beyond all reasonable doubt, the death was unlawfully caused. Although the family are disappointed at this, they understand that there may still be prosecutions against those who were directly responsible for Mark’s health and safety at work.
'The family hopes that their long fight to uncover the truth will give hope to other families whose loved ones have needlessly had their lives cut short, due to unsafe systems at work.'
Mr Rheinberg told the family, 'It has been a long and hard ordeal for you.'
Ieuan Wyn Jones
Ieuan, a clerk of works for NEWTRA (subcontractors independent of the main contractors Jones Bros), was inspecting repairs, maybe in a gully, on the side of the westbound carriageway of the busy A55 near Llanddulas in North Wales, when he was struck by a car.
Clwyd West MP David Jones claimed it was an accident waiting to happen because of the narrow lanes and volume of traffic. Mr Jones said, 'I am very concerned about the tragic accident and I have received complaints subsequently that workers are expected to carry out repair and maintenance work in hazardous conditions.'
His widow Janet, said, 'He loved his job and lived for his job. He was such a conscientious worker and he looked after everybody else's safety.'
The inquest was due to be held at NE Wales Coroner's Court at Wrexham on a date yet to be set.
Alan, a contractor, was sitting on the edge of a trailer when he slipped, falling about eight feet onto his head at a Flintshire quarry. He died in front of David Ponton, his great-nephew, who was helping him at Lloyds' quarry in Nannerch.
Alan was using a machine to unload concrete slabs, but moved on to the trailer to position one of the slabs into line.
David Ponton told the Court told how he looked around and saw Alan sitting on the edge of the trailer, and then topple backwards.
Alan fractured his skull in the fall. Colleagues tried to help him but he was certified dead on arrival at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
The inquest heard Alan was not wearing a hard hat.
Paul died in Wrexham Maelor Hospital five days after he fell through a skylight at a Comet store.
In October 2007 Steven Smith, a director of Wrexham Roofing Services, from Rhostyllen, near Wrexham, having previously indicated not guilty pleas, with a trial planned for December 2007, admitted manslaughter, intending to pervert the course of justice and health and safety breaches.
After a sentencing indication from the judge, Smith admitted manslaughter by gross negligence. Sentencing at Mold Crown Court was adjourned until 29 November 2007 .
The charge stated that Smith failed to ensure Paul had sufficient training, knowledge or experience to carry out work at dangerous heights, or to carry out roofing works. He also failed to ensure people working on the roof had safety harnesses.
Smith admitted a second charge of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of Paul and his colleague Aaron Pugh under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
In addition, he admitted a third charge of doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice - by installing safety harnesses after the accident and pretending they had been present.
Judge John Rogers QC said Smith's guilty pleas would make a substantial difference to the length of his sentence, but a prison sentence would be inevitable.
On 29 November 2007 Smith was jailed for a total of two and a half years.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) assisted North Wales Police on the investigation into the incident, and HSE inspector Debbie John said it was not acceptable for employers to cut corners, 'Mr Smith clearly knew that he should have provided safety harnesses for people working on roofs, but chose only to do this after the incident which led to the death of Mr Alker.
'Figures show that in 2006/07, 45 people have died and more than 3000 suffered a serious injury after a fall from height in the workplace. It remains the most common cause of fatal injury in the workplace, but the risk does not just apply to those working at great height. Many fatal and serious injuries are caused by people falling from below head height too.
'Health and Safety rules are not there to inconvenience employers or to wrap employees or others in cotton wool – they are in place to ensure incidents like this are prevented, and the risk of this incident happening would have been significantly reduced had appropriate safety equipment been provided.'
Ioan was working on a barge beside a rig in Penang, Malaysia when an overhead load pinned him against railings. Ioan died from a ruptured liver.
An inquest was held at Central North Wales Coroner's Court on 5 February 2009 when acting coroner John Gittins recorded a verdict of 'Accidental Death'.
Ioan was in a team moving equipment from an oil rig to a barge at night about 90 miles off the Malaysian coast. Mr Kenrick’s father, retired GP Dr Arthur Kenrick, had looked into what happened, the inquest heard.
The inquest heard the Norwegian employers had undertaken an immediate survey and the design of the barge was being modified.
Michael, a contractor from Fife, fell into a water chamber at Connah's Quay power station on Deeside. He was pulled from the tank by a diver using specialist water rescue equipment and was treated at the scene but died shortly before arriving at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
A post-mortem carried by Dr Roger Breeze Williams gave the cause of death as submersion.
An inquest was held at North East Wales Coroner's Court at Wrexham in February 2008 when a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
The Health and Safety Executive investigation was ongoing at the time of the inquest.
Work colleague Fraser Duff told the inquest that he heard Michael, who was the team leader, shouting after he fell into the water but when he and fellow worker Shane McNicoll rushed to his aid they could only see his hard hat floating on top of the water.
The team, who were contractors with Perthshire based Epsco, were employed to clean cooling towers at the power station. They were pushing silt and debris from the River Dee, which is used in the cooling towers, by a hose into the sump.
Michael was worried a pump to drain water from the well wasn’t working properly and went to the edge to investigate. But Mr McNicoll and Mr Duff, who were illuminated with lights from behind, lost sight of him. 'I started to shout Mike’s name, and I could hear him shouting in the dark,' said Mr Duff. He got a rope and a torch and shone it over the edge where they saw his hard hat on top of the water. The two then called for help.
Usually the water should be at calf high – or rigger boot – level for health and safety. But it was found to be about 1.8 metres deep when Michael fell in.
There was a surveillance hatch – but it did not give Michael the view he needed to see the level of water.
Coroner John Hughes said, 'There was clearly a level of difficulty with the level of water in the well.'
Alan, an agricultural contractor, was crushed to death by his own tractor. Alan was carrying out work at Argoed Hall Farm, Bryn-y-Baal, near Mold.
Alan initially was conscious after the incident but by the time he arrived in Wrexham Maelor Hospital he was in a coma and died.
An inquest was held at North East Wales Coroner's Court on 13 June 2008 when a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
Alan regularly worked for Mr Bletcher at his 300-acre Argoed Hall Farm, Mynydd Isa, near Mold.On November 3 he went to Argoed Hall Farm and was helping distribute feed for livestock using Mr Bletcher’s JCB with a front loading bucket.
Mr Bletcher stopped to talk to him while Alan was sitting in the cab and told him he had to have a welding job done on the bucket. 'He got out of the cab and jumped to the floor to have a look at the weld but as he moved towards the front the vehicle started moving backwards,' said Mr Bletcher.
A police investigation concluded there were no mechanical defects which could have caused the accident. The parking brake was efficient and could not be released accidentally, which meant it had not been applied. But it was possible the lever which determined whether the vehicle was in forward or reverse mode, or in neutral, could have been knocked by Alan as he jumped out of the cab.
The coroner told the jury, 'Any questions about liability I will not allow to be canvassed in this court. There may be a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive, there may be civil proceedings, that is not a concern for us.'
Frederick, a yard supervisor, was run over by a Komatsu caterpillar crawler machine at the West Pennine Recycling Unit, on Spencer Industrial Estate, Buckley. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Frederick was known to work colleagues as Fred but to his family as Gladney (his middle name).
A post-mortem carried out at Wrexham Maelor Hospital by pathologist Pauline Dowling determined the cause of death to be asphyxia, due to crush injuries sustained in the incident.
An inquest was held at North East Wales Coroner's Court at Flint on 12 May 2008 when a verdict of 'Accidental Death' was returned.
The court heard that the machine, used for transporting rubbish and material to be recycled, was being driven by a colleague, Jaroslav Somerfeld, who did not see Mr Jones when he began to reverse it.
Rhys Williams, a transfer station assistant at the recycling unit who witnessed the accident, told the inquest, 'Fred came over to talk to me and then said that he was just going to go and speak to Jaroslav. I saw him walk towards the machine, then afterwards saw Jaroslav running over and he shouted 'call an ambulance'.
'I saw Fred lying on the floor behind the machine and he was shaking. He seemed to be struggling to breathe and appeared to be shocked.'
A statement read out by Polish interpreter Monika Thomas, on behalf of Mr Somerfeld, said, 'When I began to reverse the machine, I knew straight away that something was not right. I stopped and got out of the machine and saw Fred lying on the floor so I shouted for help. I always got on very well with Fred and we never had any problems with him at all.'