Evidence of Andrew Hutchinson

P – For 25 years you have been employed principally in the food industry, you are a graduate horticulturalist and a member of the Institute of Biology. You have been self employed since 1994 providing health and safety management advice and are a member of the Association of Occupational Safety and Health?
AH – Yes.
P – You have worked in the food industry with responsibility for health and safety etc.?
AH – Yes.
P – You were referred to Euromin Ltd in February 1997 to provide a health and safety policy statement on security, staffing etc. A very broad brief!
AH – Indeed.
P – On February 7th 1997 did you see Mr Martell?
AH – Yes.
P – Did you visit the site and observe the work going on?
AH – I visited the site but there was no loading of lorries. This was unusual.
P – You produced a report with photos having identified the risks that concerned you about the things that you actually did see?
AH – Yes.
P – In the section on Hazards – fire precautions, there was no alarm system?
AH – Correct.
P – There was an apparent risk to staff tenants and the public and the environment was not adequately controlled?
AH - Correct
P – You identified further action that should be taken?
AH – Yes.
P – You detailed a schedule of action to be taken by James Martell?
AH – Yes in regard to equipment use, maintenance and repair, staff, crews, visitors. The public were vulnerable. The risks associated with the undertaking were not appropriately controlled.
P – Did you consider evidence of staff training?
AH – Yes.
P – The company health and safety statement was not available for inspection?
AH – No.
P – Staff were not trained in emergency first aid; there was no evidence on staff training on handling of loads and safe use of ladders?
AH – No.
P – Did you ask to see the accident book and identify any potential problems with access and egress, dust, slips, trips and falls and was protective clothing issued?
AH – The staff weren’t wearing them when I visited. They didn’t segregate pedestrians and vehicles. There were 1500 Kg bulk bags of blocks, some of which were damaged and not safe to lift.
P – There were no lorries being loaded and no ship being unloaded. You couldn’t assess these activities, which can take place at night, in inclement weather and at different states of the tide?
AH – Correct.
P –How important is it that no work was going on?
AH – It is essential to see most or all of the operations.
P – Were you ever asked to come back?
AH – Not until after the “accident”.
P – Were you ever approached by Martell to come back and advise on the new system of work with the open grab and hooks?
AH – No.
P – If you had been asked would you have done so?
AH – Yes.
P – Did you identify further action to be taken?
AH – Yes.
P – Did this include a draft discussion for ship unloading?
AH – Correct.
P – Did you issue a health and safety policy statement to be discussed with staff on the training of staff, competence including banksmanship?
AH – Yes.
P – Did you find any evidence of training of banksmen?
AH – No.
P – Were you aware of the importance of banksmen?
AH – Yes.
P – Did you issue a list of points that needed actioning by James Martell?
AH – Yes.
P – For example handling of substances hazardous to health, risks of storage, handling not adequately controlled. No hazard data sheets etc.?
AH - There was one!
P – There were no job descriptions although this is a specific health and safety responsibility?
AH – Correct.
P – The report was provided by you to Jane Baker. What happened then?
AH – The report was passed to Euromin.
P – After the 24th April 1998 was there a full risk assessment?
AH – Yes.
P – Then you saw the vessel being discharged and assessed the safety?
AH – Yes. I made several visits.
P – Were the chains being suspended through an open grab?
AH – No.
P – What method was being used?
AH – A crane had been hired; there was a prohibition notice on the 984.
P – After your visit were lots of health and safety documents produced at Euromin?
AH – Indeed!
P – Look at photo 19. If you had been asked to advise on that system, what would you have said?
AH – I would not have allowed that process to carry on.
P – Why not?
AH – It is inherently unsafe.
P – Is that because of the length of chains or in principle?
AH – Maybe in some circumstances if the grab was isolated. It’s difficult to comment with hindsight. I’m not really qualified to do that.

D – Training records at Euromin were taken away by the HSE. For a number of Euromin employees, one for each employee. e.g.
Mr Czaja 27th March 1996 – site safety awareness. 24th June 1996 – fork lift operating. 15th April 1997 – first aid. 16th July 1997 – manual handling. These were issued by ATB land based training network. Was this your organisation?
AH – No. I was subcontracted by the training network.
D – You wouldn’t have run these courses?
AH – No.
D – Euromin organised the courses with the training network?
AH – Yes.
D – The training network contacted you?
AH – Yes, to draft a health and safety policy.
D – What you found at Euromin was it a worse picture than you would normally find or typical?
AH – Typical, not unusual.
D – You cover a wide range of industrial activity?
AH – Yes. Mostly in agriculture, I had never been to a dock before.
D – You would not profess to expertise on dock yard procedures?
AH – No.
D – You are still retained to advise Euromin on health and safety – this is ongoing?
AH – Yes.
D – Is it a safety conscience company?
AH – Yes.
D – How much time do they spend on health and safety?
AH – About 2 days per month.
D – So about £6000 per month on health and safety?
AH – No. That’s not possible. It might be a little more than £6000 per year.
D – As it happened there was no loading or unloading going on. Was this fortuitous?
AH – It was a snapshot of what you might find at any point in time.
D – The health and safety report states the Hoekman is the director?
AH – Yes.

P – In February 1997 you produced the report. Did you attend Euromin between February 1997 and April 1998?
AH – No.
P – Were you given an opportunity to observe operations?
AH – No.
P – Were you given an opportunity to review the actions supposed to be done by Martell?
AH – Some had been done e.g. the training.
P – Was the date when you attended agreed by you and Euromin?
AH – Yes in a conversation between me and Martell.
P – If he had said there’s not much going to be going on would you have changed the date?
AH – Yes.
P – The February 1997 draft, was this adopted as policy statement by Euromin?
AH – Yes.
P – The operations procedure for vessel discharge signed by James Martell June 10th 1998, was this an example of a safe operations procedure statement?
AH – Yes.
P – Were you aware of an earlier operations procedure before June 1998?
AH – There was an operations procedure because ships were being discharged but there was nothing written.
P – There is a memo stating “all staff are to be provided with training, clothing etc” was this addressed to staff?
AH – Yes.
P – Does staff include casuals?
AH – Yes.
P – Does it say if you are asked to do a new task, ask the supervisor who will arrange training first?
AH – Yes.
P – Does it say conduct regular risk assessments?
AH – Yes.
P – Use competent personnel to ensure compliance with regulations – signed 23rd May 1997 by James Martell?
AH – Yes.

J – After February 1997 would Euromin have called you back?
AH – It was left to Jane to discuss this with the client.
J – Did you think your task was complete?
AH – No. I spoke to Jane about it.
J – Did you say anything to Euromin?
AH – No.
J – And you heard no more until 1998?
AH – No.