Jury finds a series of failings led to the death at a primary school of a 26 year old workman in Crawley

A jury at the inquest into the death of a 26-year-old workman found that a series of failings led to his death at a primary school in Crawley.

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

He was hit on the head in October 2013 by the falling manhole cover as he fitted a pipe in a 1.5 metre deep manhole at the school whilst working for subcontractors Hague Construction Ltd.

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

The narrative verdict concluded that an ‘unsafe’ combination of planning for the lift and the equipment used to move the manhole cover were relevant factors in Mr Yeowell’s death.

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. The level of supervision on the site was also found to be a factor.

The Court had heard how Daniel Clark, site foreman for Hague Construction Ltd, was away on a course on the day of the accident.

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.”

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.”