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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Coroner's warning to concrete industry after Cumbrian's death

A coroner is to write to concrete industry bosses calling for action that could prevent accidents like the one that led to a Workington man being crushed to death.

Martin McGlasson, 37, was working on the a 2.9-ton staircase at ACP Concrete Ltd in the town on September 2, 2011, when it fell onto him.

He died instantly.

After hearing three days of evidence, it took an inquest jury just 25 minutes to formally conclude that his death was an accident.

Assistant coroner Robert Chapman said he would write to British Precast, the industry federation, asking it to ensure anyone doing similar work was aware of Mr McGlasson’s death and of the measures that are necessary to prevent a similar tragedy.

The staircase that Mr McGlasson, of Alexandra Close, was working on was not restrained in any way to prevent it toppling, the inquest heard.

Since the tragedy, metal racks have been introduced at the Lakes Road firm, ACP Concrete, a subsidiary of Thomas Armstrong Holdings Ltd, to prevent them falling.

Mr Chapman said that he would highlight the new process in his letter.

The inquest heard how workers at ACP Concrete had followed the same procedure for making staircases for many years without incident.

They were removed from moulds by crane, placed on two wooden batons and, once they were deemed stable, left unrestrained.

The same process was followed 11,500 times without incident.

An investigation failed to conclude why the staircase had fallen.

The Health & Safety Executive said it was likely debris such as an off-cut of plywood had been trapped beneath a baton. But that alone would not have caused the stair to fall when it did.

The inquest heard that Mr McGlasson’s accident was the second on that morning which involved a concrete structure falling.

Shortly before his death he was operating a forklift truck onto which 17-year-old Shane Hilton was trying to tip a landing and step when the product toppled back, pinning Mr Hilton against a mould.

The tipping procedure has since been changed to use the overhead crane and a gravel pit.

A 2003 memo from the company said that all staircases should be held by an overhead crane while on their side and being worked on.

Workers said that method was unworkable and the practice had not lasted long.

David Lyall, health and safety director for Thomas Armstrong Holdings Ltd, said if he had known workers had reverted to the old method of working, he would have changed the risk assessment.

Neither he nor staff working in the factory had any concerns about the safety of the practice in place.

In a statement, Mr McGlasson’s mother Cynthia said he was happy go lucky and enjoyed watching sport.

Mr McGlasson’s family and Thomas Armstrong Holdings Ltd declined to comment after the inquest.

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