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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Cumbrian man was crushed by concrete staircase, inquest told

A factory worker who was crushed to death by a concrete staircase was working with a colleague who suffered a near miss minutes before the fatal accident.

Martin McGlasson photo
Martin McGlasson

Martin McGlasson, 37, of Alexandra Close, Workington, died at ACP Concrete on Lakes Road, Workington, on September 2, 2011, an inquest heard.

The inquest, held at Cleator Moor Civic Hall, heard that he was kneeling and carrying out finishing work on the 2.9-tonne staircase when it fell and crushed him.

Colleagues rushed to help but he died instantly from multiple injuries.

The inquest jury was told that about 20 minutes earlier Mr McGlasson had been driving a forklift truck onto which 17-year-old colleague Shane Hilton was attempting to load concrete when it toppled back towards him.

In that case the concrete came to rest against a steel rod, preventing Mr Hilton being crushed, but he was taken to hospital with bruising to his legs and was off work for a week.

After that incident Mr McGlasson had moved on to work on the staircase, cast the previous day.

The inquest heard that the structure, resting on two wooden batons, had been moved near to a joiner’s workbench to allow another staircase in the mould to be removed.

Two people working nearby were alerted when they heard the staircase fall.

Michael Griffiths, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “They heard no shout from Martin. Whatever happened, it happened quickly.”

A joint investigation by the police and the HSE found no obvious reason why the staircase fell.

Specialist inspector Sheldon Taylor said Mr McGlasson would not have had the strength to pull a stable staircase over and, although the factory floor was not flat, it was not sufficient to make the structure unstable.

Mr Taylor said it was likely that a piece of debris such as an off-cut of wood from the joiner’s bench had been caught under the wood supporting the staircase.

However, he could not explain why the staircase had not been visibly unstable to Mr McGlasson when he started work on it or to the colleague who put it in position and would have tested its stability.

The jury heard that another unknown factor must have played a part in the accident.

The job Mr McGlasson was doing had been carried out about 11,500 times at ACP Concrete Ltd, a subsidiary company of Thomas Armstrong Holdings Ltd, and it had never had an accident of this kind before.

Mr Griffiths said company documents said staircases should be secured by an overhead crane when they were being worked on on their sides to prevent toppling but it was usual practice for such measures not to be taken.

Safety measures have been tightened up since Mr McGlasson’s death, he added, and heavy steel racks are now used to prevent the structures moving.

In a statement read to the court, Mr McGlasson’s mother Cynthia said her son was a happy-go-lucky person who enjoyed going out, playing snooker and watching football.

Mr McGlasson, who was the son of John, brother of Mark and partner of Sharon Irving, attended Broughton Moor Primary School and Netherhall School in Maryport before becoming a labourer with building firm Minshaws aged 15.

At 21 he went to work for ACP Concrete at Risehow, Flimby, before moving to the Lakes Road plant.

Today the jury was due to hear from Mr McGlasson’s colleagues. The inquest is expected to finish on Friday.

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