Cigarette break site death ruled an accident

Grant Prior 10 years ago

A coroner has returned a ruling of accidental death after a worker was killed by a falling section of scaffold while having a cigarette break.

Anton Dochev, 54, was sitting in the smoking area of the £100million pound Grade II listed Lancasters development in Bayswater on August 6, 2010, while part of the scaffolding was being dismantled above him.

An inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court this week heard that the location of the smoking area and its lack of a protective cover had been repeatedly raised with site management.

The Ham & High reported scaffolding supervisor Anthony Crow, saying: “To put a smoking area under scaffolding, which is a busy site and is being dismantled, is not a good idea.”

The court heard that on the day of the tragedy, two “vastly experienced” scaffolders were sent up to dismantle a section of redundant scaffolding.

One of them undid a clip attached to the scaffolding pole, which then “went like a bullet”, ricocheted off another section and fell to the floor “like a ballistic missile”.

Site safety manager Paul Westie told the court the smoking area was moved after the accident because “it was disrespectful to the deceased to keep it there and the site had moved on and the area needed to be opened up for construction”.

But he claimed precautions at the time of Dochev’s death were “reasonable and appropriate”.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Andrew East, who was brought in to independently review the site after the incident, told the court the incident “could not have been reasonably foreseen”.

He added: “If I had been there before the accident I do not think I would have said there was a problem.”

Summing up, coroner Fiona Wilcox said: “No conclusion was reached whether the deceased was wearing PPE. PPE was required in the smoking area, however it would not have prevented the fatality.”

She added: “A risk of falling objects in the smoking area was identified and communicated prior to the accident.

“Alternative options included moving the smoking area, covering it with protective measures, or closing it off during scaffolding work but no action was taken.”

The cause of death was given as an accident

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