Accident Death Of Five Men At Birmingham Recycling Plant

17 November 2018, 10:41 | Updated: 17 November 2018, 10:44

Health & Safety Executive

Families say they will continue to look for justice after their relatives were crushed to death.

Five men were accidentally crushed to death after the "foreseeable risk" of a wall collapse in the area they were working was not identified, an inquest jury has concluded.

The 11-strong panel found the risk was not identified before the accident and it "caused or contributed to" the deaths of the workers, who were all from Senegal and Gambia.

The men died when an 11.8ft (3.6m) concrete partition came down on the workers at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham, on July 7 2016.

Reacting to the verdicts of accidental death outside court, the men's families said they would continue to look for "justice" following the "very violent deaths".

Lang Dampha, the families' spokesman, urged "immediate steps to be taken" to ensure "we learn the lessons of why our loved ones died" to prevent a repeat of any similar incidents.

A two-week inquest at the city's coroner's court into the circumstances of the men's deaths heard from a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigator that the site could have "most definitely" identified the risk of fall.

Another HSE expert told jurors "the wall was overloaded and not safe".

Labourers Almamo Jammeh, 45; Ousman Diaby, 39; Bangally Dukuray, 55; Saibo Sillah, 42, and Mahamadou Jagana, 49, were clearing out a scrap metal storage bay when they were killed at the plant in the Nechells.

Delivering the panel's conclusions on Friday, the jury foreman said: "On July 7 2016 at a metal recycling plant, the deceased were cleaning out a bay when a free-standing gravity wall overturned due to gross over-loading.

"The deceased suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene."

They also found the risk of collapse was foreseeable, was not "actually identified" and "caused or contributed" to each of the deaths.

They concluded verdicts of accidental death for each of the men.

The jury heard last week that part of a stored pile of 263 tons of metal ingots had fallen, along with the wall itself, on to the group when the partition gave way.

During Thursday's evidence, HSE investigator Paul Cooper was asked by area coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Emma Brown if the "risk of the wall falling" could have been spotted.

He replied "most definitely" and that it would have "common sense" to have identified that risk.

Before being sent out on Friday, jurors were directed by the coroner to record verdicts of accidental death.

She also asked them to determine whether there was a "foreseeable risk" of collapse.

CCTV had showed a shift in the wall's angle seconds before the structure came down.

All the victims suffered "devastating blunt force injuries" and had to be identified by their fingerprints, the inquest heard.

As the verdicts were read out, the families of the men broke down in tears and one of the men's widows had to leave the courtroom.

Wayne Hawkeswood, managing director of Shredmet Ltd, which runs the yard, said in a statement read to the inquest on Monday that he "simply cannot comprehend how this happened".

He added: "I am absolutely devastated by the deaths of the five men and constantly think about the loss their family and friends have suffered."

Addressing the families, after the verdicts, Mrs Brown said: "I wanted to convey my deepest condolences to you on the loss of your loved ones, who were clearly very hard-working, diligent and responsible family men."

She added: "I hope the jury's findings of fact, on the evidence, will, with time, bring you some comfort."

After the hearing, the bereaved families thanked the British public for their support following the accident.

A spokesman for Shredmet said: "All of us at Shredmet remain deeply saddened and shocked by the deaths of Mr Diaby, Mr Sillah, Mr Dukuray, Mr Jammeh and Mr Janana, all of whom were valued work colleagues.

"Once again, we would like to express our sincere condolences to their families and friends for their losses.

"We have and will continue to provide the fullest assistance to the coroner in her investigation.

"We also continue to assist the HSE with its ongoing investigation.

"We are required to respect the integrity of the HSE investigation and we are therefore unable to comment on it further at this stage."

A HSE spokesperson said: "Following the conclusion of the inquest our thoughts remain with the families of those who lost loved ones on that day. We appreciate that this continues to be a difficult time for them."

"We have assisted the Coroner and given expert evidence during the inquest. Our investigation is still ongoing and we will inform the families and other parties when it is concluded."

"We are unable to comment any further at this time."