Crane Accidents

Family to Celebrate Crane Death Victim 10 years On

04/23/08

United Kingdom

Original Story

Company Cleared of Charges

A decade on from his death in an industrial accident, the friends and family of Simon Jones will gather tomorrow evening to remember him.

Simon was killed on his first day working for Euromin at Shoreham Docks, unloading bags of aggregate from inside the hold of a ship.

The 24-year-old, who had been taking a year off from his studies at the University of Sussex, died instantly when the grab of a crane crushed his head.

Despite the dangerous nature of the job, he had received no training and had not even been given a hard hat.

The crane driver could not see inside the hold, and was being directed by a man who did not speak English or know proper hand signals.

Simon’s friends and family set up the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign to fight for justice for their loved one.

Among their activities was a series of direct action protests, including an occupation of the Department for Trade and Industry offices in London and a three-hour blockade of Southwark Bridge.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially refused to prosecute Euromin and its general manager, James Martell, for manslaughter, but it was ordered to do so following a historic judicial review brought about by Simon’s family.

After another nine months – and a picket outside the CPS offices – the CPS agreed to prosecute.

The case finally came to court in November 2001, more than three years after Simon’s death.

James Martell and Euromin were cleared, but the firm was fined £50,000 after it was found guilty of two health and safety offences.

In response the protestors occupied Euromin’s premises in Shoreham, climbing a dockside lighting rig and unfurling a banner with the campaign slogan – ‘Casualisation kills’.

Ironically Simon had been involved with campaigns against casualisation, supporting the Liverpool dockers who were being replaced by casual workers.

Campaigners argue that casualisation leads to a reduction in the number of independent union safety reps on site and can mean corners are cut on health and safety, particularly if workers are not adequately trained.

Tomorrow at 8pm Simon’s parents Anne and Chris, and his brother Tim, will speak at the Cowley Club in London Road, Brighton, about the lessons learned from their fight.

A 30-minute film about the campaign will also shown.

Families of people killed at work still contact the campaign for information. Colleges often request copies of the campaign DVD and campaign spokesman Colin Chalmers recently gave a talk to trainee construction managers at Melbourne University.

Colin believes there is still more that can be done to protect workers.

He said: “The number of fatalities increased last year and yet the Health and Safety Executive had its budget cut.”

Although the general trend is a reduction in workplace deaths, between 2006 and 2007 the number of deaths at work rose from 217 to 241. Earlier this month the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act was introduced, which means companies, organisations and, for the first time, Government bodies face a criminal offence and larger fines if they are found to have caused a death due to gross corporate health and safety failures.

The TUC said this was a step in the right direction but would have been more effective if it had made individual company directors personally liable for safety breaches at work and if tougher penalties against employers had been introduced.

To watch the video about the campaign visit www.simonjones.org.uk.

Category: Report Update

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