Jury concludes ‘unsafe’ equipment was factor in death of workman at Crawley school


A workman who died at a primary school in Crawley was hit on the head with a falling manhole cover.

Daniel Yeowell, 26, of Gillingham, Kent, died after sustaining severe injuries to his face and head while working on a building project Langley Green Primary School in Crawley.

Not a day goes by when we don’t think of what he would be doing now had he not died so tragically young.

A statement by Daniel Yeowell’s family

A jury inquest into his death was held at County Hall North, Horsham, concluded today (June 3).

The jury found unsafe equipment used by the workers and the level of supervision on the day contributed to Mr Yeowell’s death.

Daniel Yeowell, was working for subcontractors Hague Construction Ltd, was fitting a pipe in a 1.5 metre deep manhole when the chains when a cover being lifted into place came loose.

He was taken by air ambulance to the Royal London Hospital on October 4, 2013 but died on October 7.

A statement from Daniel Yeowell’s family said: “Daniel was a much loved son, brother and colleague, we all miss him very much.

“Not a day goes by when we don’t think of what he would be doing now had he not died so tragically young.

“We welcome the findings of the coroner, Penelope Schofield and hope that through her findings the chances of something like this happening to anyone else are significantly reduced.”

The jury recorded a unanimous narrative conclusion.

They found the team used an ‘unsafe’ combination of lifting equipment to move the manhole cover and said ‘unsafe equipment’ and the level of supervision on the site were relevant factors which lead to Mr Yeowell’s death.

Daniel Clark, site foreman for Hague Construction Ltd, was away on a course on the day of the accident.

The jury concluded Mr Yeowell’s colleagues, Kevin Foster and Ryan Davies, were not ‘competent’ to carry out their roles – another factor which lead to Mr Yeowell’s death.

The jury also found the lift was not ‘adequately’ planned.

Zahra Nanji, the lawyer representing the family, from law firm Leigh Day, said: “The coroner’s narrative verdict clearly shows that adherence to all Health and Safety Regulations is important.

“The tragic death of Daniel highlights that even failures which may seem small at the time can have truly devastating consequences.”

Inspector Andrew Cousins, from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was called to Langley Green Primary School to investigate the incident.

He said lifting work was a ‘potentially dangerous activity’ which should be planned ‘properly’ to mitigate the danger.

“The plan is about having a sensible clear way of under taking a dangerous activity,” Mr Cousins told the court.

“They may have been doing this activity several times but this activity needs to be properly planned.”

Hague Construction Ltd, who were contracted by West Sussex County Council contractors Balfour Beatty, had not provided a written plan for lifting.

The jury heard the workmen did not use a shackle to fit the chains for the lift.

Eyewitness Kristoffer Hoath, who was also working on another part of the site, said he recalled seeing Mr Yeowell in the hole and the manhole cover ‘horizontal’ before it detached from the chain.

Ryan Davies, ground worker, had asked Mr Keowell to get out of the hole but ‘jumped in’ after the accident to make sure he was okay.

Kevin Foster, who was driving the excavator machine which was lifting the cover, said he had ‘no direct training in attaching loads’ at the time of the accident.

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