Tragedy was preventable

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SAFETY systems were inadequate at a South Yorkshire factory where a steelworker was crushed to death by a girder, an inquest heard.

Risk assessments were insufficient and had been wrongly withheld from staff at Bespoke Precast in Barugh Green Barnsley.

And instructions on how to operate a beam clamp – a means of suspending objects – were insufficient, Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard.

John Mott, aged 47, of Green Road, Penistone, was killed when a three-tonne steel beam fell from a crane on May 30, 2009.

A nine-member jury recorded a narrative verdict of safety failings at the plant yesterday, just a week short of the second anniversary of the tragedy.

After the verdict Mr Mott’s wife, Janet, said his death could have been avoided.

She said: “The evidence has shown there were a number of deficiencies at the factory. We cannot understand why task-specific risk assessments were not provided to the staff and why the security of beam clamps on girders was not identified or apparently considered.

“We are left feeling short- changed, looking at an empty chair in the house.

“John was a loveable, kind man, who just wanted to go work, watch Sheffield United, love his wife and help others along the way.

“He always had a smile on his face, a kind word and we have been robbed by his sudden death.”

The family is suing the company – now called Charcon Precast Solutions – for compensation.

The inquest had been adjourned in February by assistant deputy coroner Donald Coutts Wood so it could be considered by the Crown Prosecution Service.

It resumed on Monday, and concluded yesterday when jurors returned a unanimous verdict.

Mr Coutts Wood said he would ask the Health and Safety Executive – which is running its own investigation – to confirm the company was now being proactive about safety.

Earlier, the inquest heard Mr Mott may have tried to climb on to a work bench to detach the girder from a crane so he could use it himself.

Colleagues said they heard a “hefty thud” and saw him trapped under the beam. A forklift truck was used to lever it off his body and he was taken to Barnsley Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The jury found management and supervision were appropriate and near-miss reporting was done properly.

A spokesman for the company said: “Our sympathy is with John’s family and friends.”