Queensferry Crossing employee‘s loss of life ‘a tragic accident‘

A sheriff has ruled that the death of a maintenance worker on the Queensferry Crossing was a “tragic accident”.

John Cousin, 62, was struck by the falling jib of a crane after he had removed a securing pin.

The accident took place on 29 April 2016 during the construction of the road bridge over the Forth.

Sheriff William Gilchrist recommended that consideration be given to warning labels on similar pins about procedures for their removal.

A fatal accident inquiry heard in December that Mr Cousin, who was from Simonburn, Northumberland, suffered “unsurvivable injuries” after the 550kg (87st) jib fell on him.

It was part of a hired Giraf Track Crane. Stewart Clark, 29, a fitter employed by the machine‘s owners, was preparing to replace a leaking hydraulic hose on the crane.

In his written determination, Sheriff Gilchrist said that with better training Mr Clark might have used a “more appropriate” method of replacing the hose which did not involve touching the jib.

But he added: “Regrettably, the only conclusion that I can reach is that the reason the fly jib struck the deceased was because he was positioned underneath the fly jib at a point near the centre of the fly jib where he was engaged in removing the central pivot pin.

“This was a tragic accident. I can understand why Mr Cousin‘s family might believe that he would not have removed the central pin on his own initiative. I can therefore understand why they might be critical of Stewart Clark‘s competence and the training provided to him by his employers.

“However, on balance, I am not persuaded that he (Mr Clark) instigated or acquiesced in the removal of the pin.

“Accordingly, the criticisms of his training, while justified, cannot give rise to a finding of a defect in a system of work because any such defect would not have contributed to the cause of the accident.”

Sheriff Gilchrist went on to recommend labels warning operators “not to remove the pin without first having confirmed that the fly jib is secured by another pin.”

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