'˜Freak accident' may have killed Queensferry Crossing worker

A construction worker fatally injured on the new Queensferry Crossing may have died as a result of a 'freak accident', a probe has heard.

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 4:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:30 am

A fatal accident inquiry was told that John Cousin, 62, from Northumberland, died from a chest injury after being struck by a crane boom extension weighing 550kg.

A joint minute read to the inquiry at Stirling Sheriff Court said forensic pathologists concluded “the injuries which had been sustained by John Cousin were not survivable”.

The accident happened on the north tower deck of the bridge on April 28 last year.

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At the time Mr Cousin was employed by Galliford Try Employment Ltd and had been seconded to work for the Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) as a leading hand foreman.

The inquiry has heard the crane in question - which had been leased to FCBC by crane company GGR Group - was out of action at the time due to a burst hose that was leaking hydraulic oil.

The accident happened after GGR fitter Stewart Clark had been brought out to the bridge to help fix the machine and was working on it alongside Mr Cousin.

The court was told the extension to the crane’s boom - the fly jib - was secured to the boom by two large metal pins, one at the cab end and another in the middle.

During a second day of evidence the inquiry heard from Detective Sergeant Robert Williamson, 45, from Police Scotland’s major investigations team, who was responsible for collecting evidence at the scene.

He read from a report he had prepared based on statements taken from witnesses to the accident, including site engineer with responsibility for health and safety, Fraser McIntyre.

Mr McIntyre described Mr Cousin as a “pleasant guy” who would “help you if you needed help with anything”.

He recalled hearing “screams and shouts” on the morning of the accident and arriving at the scene said he saw Mr Cousin “motionless, there was lots of blood on the ground. I knew it was serious”.

The statement said Mr Clark was “white as a ghost”.

“He said he thought he’d been hit on the head. He was sitting on the ground and he said that a white flash hit him.”

It continued: “I could see one of the pins for the fly jib hanging free and the other was lying on the ground.

“It seemed like a bit of a freak accident to me because both pins should not have been removed.

“I think if only one pin had been removed the jib would still be secure.

“I don’t even know why John would even be there. I think it would be in his nature to give a hand.”

Another statement from site supervisor Romain Simon recalled that the jib was lying one to two metres from Mr Cousin while Mr Clark “looked shocked and was shaking a lot”.

A third witness, Duncan Mackenzie, Mr Cousin’s supervisor, was with him when the pair were made aware the crane was broken.

The report said: “He and the deceased identified this crane was not one of FCBC’s meaning they had no responsibility for the repair.”

The inquiry heard the accident happened at around 11.30am and Mr Cousin was quickly evacuated from the bridge by boat.

He was declared dead around an hour later after medics attempted CPR after finding no pulse or breathing.

Mr Cousin’s relatives have been present in court to hear the evidence.