Evidence of Sean Currey

Sean Currey confirmed that he had previously worked in dockyards for three and a half years and that he was working with Simon on 24 April 1998. He was referred to Euromin Ltd by the agency Personnel Selection and had worked there ten or twelve times before as a casual day worker. He had previously worked on the Cambrook two or three times, both as a lander and in the hold, unloading bags of blocks.

P – What system was being used for unloading bags at Euromin?
SC – Chains wrapped around the crane and two chains attached to that.
P– The excavator with the grab?
SC – Yes.
P– Was the grab open or closed?
SC – For a long job it was closed and the chains were wrapped around it; for a
short job it was done any old fashion.
P. – Did you ever see a different attachment with one hook and no grab?
SC – Yes, I was involved in changing the grab for the hook.
P– Why was the change over done?
SC – I’m not sure; we were told to change it so we did.
P– How long did the change over take?
SC – Fifteen to twenty minutes at the most. Trevor did the main work with Jim at
the controls.
P– Did you assist?
SC – Yes, I got the tools ready.
P – Did you ever see the hook attachment used?
SC – Yes for the same loads; that’s the bags.
P – Was that in 1998 or before?
SC – In the same year; I hadn’t worked there long.
P – So it was sometimes the hook, sometimes the grab closed and sometimes
the grab open?
SC – Yes.
P – Did you ever notice extra hooks welded to the stem of the grab?
SC – Yes, once; I didn’t think much about it.
P – What were they used for?
SC – Two chains were fitted straight onto the hooks.
P – With the new hooks, was the grab open or closed?
SC – Open.
P – Had the hooks been weight tested?
SC – Jim told me they had.
P – When were you first contacted about working on the 24th April?
SC - I can’t remember
P – How would it be arranged?
SC – Roger Grant or the agency phoned
P – What sort of notice would you get?
SC – With Roger, a week or two
P- what time did you arrive at Euromin on 24th April?
SC – 7.20
P – Was the Cambrook in?
SC- No
P – Did you see it come in, berth and moor?
SC- Yes, I helped moor it
P- When did you first see Simon?
SC- At 8 or just after. I confused him with the Liebherr engineer
P- Where did the engineer go?
SC- Into the shed (the larger shed shown on the plan)
P- Did you speak to Simon?
SC- Yes, we exchanged pleasantries
P- Did you know he had been sent by the same agency as you?
SC- Yes
P- What happened next?
SC- We just milled around, and talked with Roger Grant
P- What was Grant’s role?
SC- Officially ship’s agent. We treated him as a foreman or supervisor
P- What was Martell’s role?
SC- Main manager
P- Was he there that day?
SC- I didn’t see him
P- Was Martell involved in decisions about work?
SC- I don’t know, I was rarely in the office
P- Did you ever see him giving instructions?
SC- I can’t remember
P- How were jobs allocated?
SC- We gathered on the bank. Jim was in the cab. Trevor was in the area, but not
with the group. Roger asked me what I’d be doing, I said in the ship as usual. He
asked Jody. I made it clear by looking at Roger that I didn’t want Jody working in
the hold.
P- Why?
SC- He was a nice lad but he couldn’t hold his concentration very well. I had
already spoken to Simon about his experience at Newhaven. Roger said is it OK if
Simon goes with you? I said yes, whatever.
P- When you were in the hold was there a person to pass signals?
SC- Yes, the banksman
P- How important was the banksman?
SC- He controls the entire operation of the ship
P- Who was normally banksman?
SC- Ford, but Grant could step in
P- Was Ford good at it?
SC- Yes, very good
P- Was Ford there that day?
SC- Yes
P- Was Ford the banksman?
SC- No, he was working with the loading shovel, loading lorries
P- Would the aggregate left in piles for the shovel to collect?
SC- Yes
P- Who normally drives the shovel?
SC- It depends. Most people are capable of driving it
P- Was there a Welsh man who drove the shovel?
SC- Yes, Taffy, a casual, but he wasn’t there that day
P- Where was he?
SC- At Pyecroft Engineering
P- Do you understand why?
SC- Yes, he would be paid more there
P- Do you recall any discussion about a banksman?
SC- No
P- What sort of build did Jim have?
SC- He had a big beer belly, he was a bit shorter than me, he used to waddle
around
P- What was his clothing like?
SC- His work clothing was shabby, but that didn’t matter. It was extra extra large,
well padded
P- What happened next?
SC- I went into the ship, Simon followed me into the main hold
P- Were you wearing helmets?
SC- No
P- Was that normal practice?
SC- Nobody bothered, I don’t recall anybody wearing one.
P – What could you see in the hold?
SC – The Bobcat at the front, rows of rumble stone bags and aggregate.
P – Did you unload the aggregate?
SC – No.
P – Did you decide what order to unload the bags?
SC – Yes.
P – Did anyone ask you to give Simon instructions?
SC – No.
P – Did you tell him anything on safety?
SC – Not real safety; just what’s helpful regarding the movement of the crane.
The Liebherr is fast; I showed him where to be and where not to be.
P – Did he appear to listen and understand?
SC – Yes, he was very bright. He understood almost immediately.
P – Did he do anything you regarded as unsafe?
SC – No.
P – Did he help you after you showed him the first few bags?
SC – Yes. We hooked the bags up to be lifted out of the ship.
P – How many hooks were there for each bag?
SC – Four.
P – Was that one hook to each loop?
SC -Yes
P – How many bags per lift?
SC – Normally two, but sometimes three if one of the bags was falling over.
P – When the arm comes down is the grab open or closed?
SC – Open
P – Where were you when the arm was descending?
SC – Well out of the way. When the arm stopped, we moved in to hook the bags
up.
P – How did Jim know how low to take the arm?
SC – The banksman would tell him.
P – Would you signal to the banksman?
SC – Ford would know without me telling him. With this banksman I had to
signal.
P – Did you know who he was?
SC – No. I knew he was from the ship.
P – So you go in and attach the hooks?
SC – Yes then signal to take the strain. Then when it’s safe, signal to take out.
P – When you were working with Simon, did you work on one bag together or
on separate bags?
SC – Separate bags at the same time.
P – How high above the bags should the hooks be?
SC – Done properly, just above the tops of the bags. On this day they were too
low, I had to tell him to lift a bit. The hooks and chains were lying tangled on the
bags. I signalled to the banksman to lift slowly, to inch up.
P – Are you trained in signalling?
SC – Not formally trained but I picked it up.
P – What is the inch up signal?
SC – Clench and unclench your right hand.
P – What is the lift signal?
SC – Point your right hand and make a circular movement.
P – So you were signalling inch up and he passed on lift.
SC – Yes. The chains jerked up, once nearly out of the hold. After a while we
steadied it.
P – How?
SC – Basically I just shouted obscenities at him.
P – Were they Polish or English obscenities?
SC – English.
P – Did he understand them?
SC – He appeared to, I think he understood the tone of my voice.
P – Would the full length of chains always be used?
SC – Not always, it depended on the job.
P – Would they sometimes be shortened?
SC – Yes.
P – Who would do the shortening?
SC – It could be anybody who was about.
P – Where would the excavator arm be when the chains were being shortened?
SC – The grab was resting on the floor on the quayside.
P – How common was it to shorten the chains?
SC – It was a regular occurrence, especially to lift the bobcat.
P – Was everybody aware that chains were often shortened?
SC – Yes.
P – Was there any reason to shorten the chains when working on the
Cambrook?
SC – Yes because of the self discharge system.
P - (refers to photograph of ship) The machine moves back and forth along
rails and scoops up aggregate onto the conveyer belt?
SC – Yes, right.
P – If it got near the excavator arm that could cause problems?
SC – Yes you need clearance between the excavator arm and the self discharge
system.
P – Did the excavator ever come in contact with the self-discharge machinery?
SC – I never witnessed it myself.
P – Would this problem arise if a proper hook was fitted?
SC – I don’t know.
P – Were the chains short on the 24th April?
SC – Yes.
P – How much of the chain extended beyond the closing range of the grab?
SC – I never thought about the grab closing.
P – Did you ever think that it could close?
SC – No, with Jim at the controls I never doubted it was safe.
P – How much shorter than normal were the chains?
SC – Eighteen inches to two feet.
P – Who did the shortening?
SC – I don’t know.
P – Can you describe the noise that you could hear in the hold?
SC – The excavator made a squeaking noise; there was a diesel engine noise and
the auto discharge system made a lot of noise.
P – Could you make Jim hear from inside the hold?
SC – No.
P – Can you describe the scene immediately before the incident?
SC – We were sat leaning against the bags; the grab came in at the far side of the
ship. We walked towards it, me to the outside of the bags by the wall facing the
back of the ship, Simon to the inside of the bags.
P – (referring to tab 3 photo 21) This shows the grab over two bags with Simon
over the bag further from the wall. Is that how it was?
SC – Yes, I faced the opposite way to Simon. I was stood on the aggregate.
P – You were attaching hooks to loops on the left side of the bags and Simon
was working on the one next to you?
SC – Yes. Simon was standing in the gap between the bags as far as I’m aware.
P – (Referring to photos 28 and 29) How many hooks had you successfully
attached?
SC – I can’t remember, they came down pretty low. One of my hooks had fallen
down the opposite side of the bag.
P – Could you reach it?
SC – I grabbed the chain and leaned over, then Simon passed me the hook.
P – How low were the hooks relative to previous occasions?
SC – Not as low as on previous occasions.
P – What did Simon have to do to pass you the hook?
SC – I didn’t see what he did, I just saw his arm. I pulled myself back over the
bag then I heard a grunting noise.
P – What did you see?
SC – I saw something in his eyes that triggered sheer panic. I knew he was dead.
The grab had closed on the back of his head.
P – What did you do?
SC – I shouted to the banksman to open the grab. I was panicking; the message
was not getting across. I ran up and signalled to Jim.
P – Had you heard the grab make a noise closing?
SC – No. Until I saw Simon I didn’t know it had closed.
P – How high above the top of the bags was the closed grab?
SC – Two to three feet.
P – was Simon still in contact with the surface or had he been lifted?
SC – I didn’t look at his feet. The grab had held him upright but I wasn’t aware
of it holding his weight.
P – Was the grab open after you signalled to Jim?
SC – It had opened slightly – one or two feet. Simon had slumped out of it. I
stayed on top of the aggregate; there was nothing I could do. Then I got onto the
quayside to fetch an ambulance then I guided the ambulance in from the
weighbridge. I went with the paramedic into the hold over the bags to Simon.
P – Was the scene as in the photos showing the grab open?
SC – Yes.
P – What was the effect on you?
SC – Initially I slept that night; then I didn’t sleep for six months. My landlord
noticed my drink problem and we sorted it out.
P – Did you return to Euromin?
SC – Yes.
P – On how many occasions?
SC – Twice a week for a month. I finally left just after Christmas 1998.

D – You had been doing dock work for two years before the accident and you
had been at Euromin for some months?
SC – Yes.
D – through another agency – Kellett?
SC – Yes. Personnel Selection paid more.
D – Did Dave Hipper go through your previous dock work experience?
SC – Yes.
D – Did the agency provide your jacket and hard hat?
SC – Yes.
D – Did you supply your own boots?
SC – Yes.
D – You reported to Roger Grant?
SC – Yes.
D – You started on the quayside and were kept on?
SC – I can’t honestly remember how long I worked on the quayside.
D – Did Grant give you some warning of the dangers involved in the work?
SC – Yes.
D – Did you feel confident to be doing the job that morning?
SC – Yes.
D – The chains were lowered into positions indicated by you; you signal the
banksman and he signals Harris until the chains are in the right place?
SC – Yes.
D – The banksman can’t see how high the chains are?
SC – Not until the hooks touch the bags. It never rushed in.
D – The excavator should stop with the hooks just touching the bags?
SC – Yes.
D – If they came in too low the chains could tangle and it would be difficult to
secure the bags?
SC – Yes.
D – If that happened you’d signal to take it up a bit?
SC – Yes. It only happened on a few occasions if I wasn’t working with Trevor
Ford.
D – Was Ford a model banksman?
SC – Yes; within an inch.
D – Was the Polish banksman not so good?
SC – That’s right.
D – Are the hand signals universally known and few in number?
SC – As far as I knew at the time.
D – Previously you had used chains wrapped around the grab that were
unsafe?
SC – I never had much to say about that, I just did the work.
D – Could the excavator with chains be used to lift bags and the bobcat?
SC – The Cambrook had its own Bobcat; other ships didn’t.
D – Had you had experience in the hold of any ship at Euromin, lifting with
the wrapped chains before February 1998?
SC – Yes two or three times.
D – Had you any previous experience with welded hooks?
SC – Once.
D – Were there no problems?
SC – No.
D – How long had you worked like that – some hours?
SC – Depends.
D – Were you working in the hold?
SC – I can’t remember, I would have been in the hold some of the time.
D – Did Simon speak to Grant out of your hearing?
SC – Yes.
D – Did Grant give out the jobs?
SC – It was a group decision; we were all competent.
D – were you confident that Simon was competent to do that job?
SC – Yes.
D – If the chains were the normal length there would have been a gap of three
and a half feet between the gap and the ends of the chains?
SC – Yes.
D – So the grab would have been well above the operators’ heads?
SC – Yes.
D – If the grab was lowered too far it would have been in range of their
heads?
SC – Yes.
D – This would be easy to rectify by signalling to the banksman?
SC – Yes
D – It never occurred to you that the grab would close?
SC – No; the machine was looked after by Jim and by Liebherr.
D – Inadvertently Jim caused the grab to close. It never occurred to you that other levers could be operated?
SC – I never sat in the cab.
D - Were the chains shortened at the start of the operation or at break?
SC – We started with them at full length; we came back from the tea break to find the chains shorter.
D - When did you know that they had been shortened – straightaway?
SC – I noticed afterwards that they had been shortened.
D – Was this done on the initiative of the crane driver?
SC – Yes usually.
D – Was it done to avoid fouling of the automatic discharge system?
SC – Yes.
D – Refer to bundle A, the last document in divider 2.
J
– See photo 8, this shows the tracks well.
D – The automatic discharge machinery works progressively along the slag (aggregate) while the excavator moves the bags? In the photo it has got half way along and it has to avoid the crane?
SC – Yes.
D – That’s why Harris shortened the chains?
SC – Yes.
D – Couldn’t he just move the crane along?
SC – Along the quayside?
D – Yes.
SC – It would foul the hatches. Jim works at 90 degrees to the quayside to be able to see the banksman.
D – It would be possible to move the crane a bit?
SC – Yes, but this system was always used.
D – You’d only done this with the welded hooks once before. With the old system were the chains shortened?
SC – Yes, regularly.
D – So this accident was a combination of the grab being low enough and the man being within range?
SC – Yes.
D – With the man under the grab?
SC – Yes.
D – At the precise moment that the crane driver closes the grab?
SC – Yes.
D – We have been told it would take fifteen or twenty minutes to change the grab for the hook. I suggest it would take one and a half to two hours.
SC – No it would never take that long.

P – In your conversation with Grant were you asked about your familiarity with hand signals?
SC – I can’t remember.
P – Did you learn the signals from Trevor Ford while you were working at Euromin?
SC – No, I knew them before.
P – Were you instructed in the new system?
SC – No, there was no specialist training.
P – Who told you how to work the system?
SC – Grant and Ford.
P – Did anyone suggest that you should take particular care?
SC – I can’t remember.
P – For instance, not reaching over the bags or keeping your heads down?
SC – No, reaching over the bags was a regular occurrence.
P – Did Jim ever explain why he shortened the chains?
SC – No.
P – The conveyor belt carries aggregate towards the back of the ship – see photo 9. You can see the rail along which the gantry moves. Is that a permanent fixture?
SC – Permanent.
P – does the gantry overhang the side of the hold?
SC – I don’t remember. I’ve only seen it from below.
P – Was there any way to work other than under the open grab?
SC – No.
P – Do you blame Jim for what happened?
D – Objection.
J– Upheld.
P – No further questions.