Evidence of Trevor Ford, Euromin employee

P – Mr Ford, you have been working at the docks since 1976?

TF – That's right.

P – You started working at Euromin as a casual worker, were taken on full time from 1999 and are still employed there?

TF – Yes.

P – In April 1998, what jobs did you do there?

TF – General dock work, yard duties, forklift truck operation, banksman, stevedore, webber, lander.

P – Would you regularly be banksman?

TF – 9 times out of 10 yes.

P – You worked well with Harris?

TF – Yes.

P – He understood your signals?

TF – Yes.

P – A banksman would only be needed for bags of stones?

TF – Yes.

P – As a casual how many days a week did you work?

TF – 4 or 5 days.

P – Were you employed by an agency?

TF – No. I would ask if I was needed next day.

P – Who organised this?

TF – Mick Czaja.

P – He worked in the weighbridge?

TF – Yes.

P – On 23 rd April 1998, you knew you were wanted on Friday?

TF – Yes I was asked by Mick Czaja.

P – Roger Grant the ship's agent/ safety officer, did he do much about safety?

TF – What do you mean?

P – He was called a safety officer?

J – What were his duties as safety officer?

TF – He wasn't very good at it; he didn't know what was involved.

P – Did you know on Thursday April 23 rd that the Cambrook was coming in.

TF – Yes.

P – What job did you expect to do?

TF – Banksman or Stevedore.

P – Did you know on Thursday that there would be bags to unload from the Cambrook?

TF – Yes.

P – How important to the operation is the banksman?

TF – It is the most important job on the boat. You can see better than below; you know what lift to take.

P - You knew hand signals well?

TF – Yes.

P – Could you have shouted to Mr Harris?

TF – Not on the Cambrook.

P – What job did you do that day?

TF – I worked on the loading shovel in the yard, it's a 4- wheel vehicle of 20 tons with a bucket on the front.

P – What would it be loading?

TF – It would be loading in the yard. The weighbridge would tell you what to load into articulated lorries, 8 wheelers or 6 wheelers – whatever was there.

P – Who told you to drive the shovel?

TF – Mick Czaja. Loading is a priority. The lorries needed to go out.

P – Were you involved in planning the day's work, the arrival of lorries etc.?

TF – No it was someone else – Mick Czaja.

P – From the telephone in the weighbridge?

TF – Yes.

P – Did Mick personally decide who was to work where?

TF – No. Mick passes information on. I didn't speak to him personally.

J – Who would be banksman if not you?

TF – The next man down, Sean Currey.

P – Was Roger Grant sometimes the banksman?

TF – Yes. Sometimes.

P – In the past Roger Grant had sustained an injury?

TF – Yes he broke his ankle.

P – Did that affect him going on board?

TF – It stopped him going on quay .

P – The Cambrook came in with the starboard side to the quay?

TF – Yes.

P – Did you know where the normal L551 loading shovel driver was?

TF – We didn't have one. The L551 driver left. Me and Jim shared the duties after that.

P – Had you driven the L551 before while bags were being discharged?

TF – No. If there were bags on the ship I'd be on the ship or acting as banksman. Otherwise I could be driving the L551 loading shovel.

P – Could anyone else have driven the shovel?

TF – No.

P – Was it unusual for there to be insufficient people for all of these jobs?

TF – No, not really. It was sometimes better organised.

J – Normally you would have been taken off the shovel to deal with the ship but not this time?

TF – Yes.

P – Did you see the bags being unloaded onto the quayside?

TF – Yes.

P – Did you see the banksman signalling?

TF – Sort of, he was pointing and waving his hands.

P – Did that make sense to you?

TF – No.

P – Could you see what else was going on?

TF – He was waving his hands but the crane driver must have made some sense of the signals or else he'd have stopped working.

P – What was Mick Czaja doing?

TF – He was driving the forklift truck to move the bags.

P – You were watching your own job. What was it you first saw so that you knew something was wrong?

TF – The banksman was running to the living quarters of the ship…Sean was staggering up the gangway and he didn't look too good.

P – Did you meet the Liebherr fitter by chance?

TF – Yes.

P – Was his a routine visit?

TF – Yes he was booked to do a job on the 541 loading shovel – changing the loading arms. He was working in the bottom shed next to the Pycroft shed.

P – Is it a big job replacing the loading arms?

TF – I imagine so.

P – You saw that the Liebherr grab was open.

TF – Yes.

P – Did you know there was a Liebherr hook attachment intended for lifting bags and similar loads?

TF – Yes. We used the bucket as a lifting frame.

P – By “bucket” I take it you mean what we are calling a grab. Could you understand why the grab was there?

TF – No.

P – Did you know that the correct lifting hook was available at Euromin?

TF – Yes.

P – Do you know why it was not used?

TF – No.

P – Who decided on the use of the hook or the grab?

TF – It's the machine driver's responsibility. He uses whatever tool he needs for the job.

P – Have you ever seen the change over of attachments?

TF – Yes.

P – How long does it take?

TF – 30 to 40 minutes.

P – Was there enough time and enough people there that morning to effect the changeover?

TF – I suppose it could have been done.

P – When you were working as banksman, did you ever see lifting done with the grab on the arm?

TF – Yeah. Many a time.

P – Was the grab always closed or open?

TF – Always open.

P – Did you ever see chains wrapped around the closed grab?

TF – Yes, we have done that.

P – Do you remember the hooks being welded to the stem of the grab?

TF – Yes.

P – After that the grab was always used open?

TF – That depends on what you wanted to do.

P – Could you see as well with the grab in place as with the hook?

TF – Of course not.

P – Could you see what was going on under the grab if it was open?

TF – Yes, usually the other guy in the hold helps you out with signals. You can see more with the hook attachment but you still rely on the guy in the hold.

P – Did you know the chains had been shortened?

TF – Yes I saw them come out of the boat.

P – You were on the shovel when you saw this?

TF – Yes.

P – Did you start with the chains shortened?

TF – I don't know.

P – How common was shortening?

TF – It depends what you are doing. We had shortened chains before.

P – Had the grab ever closed unexpectedly?

TF – Not often. A couple of times. I'm not sure when but we were doing bags. I was in the hold.

P – Where was the grab?

TF – Above our heads.

P – How close?

TF – A few feet above us.

P – Did this happen as the bags were being lifted out?

TF – Yes.

P – Were you hooking?

TF – Yes.

P – Was there any reason to use a grab?

TF – There shouldn't be.

P – Were you worried about it?

TF – No. I thought it was safe. It was a shock but you get over it.

P – Did you keep quiet about it?

TF – No I shouted to the crane driver.

P – Did the grab ever totally close?

TF – No.

P – Did you want to keep it secret?

TF – No.

P – Were you formally trained in signals to British standards?

TF – No.

 

D – How long had you worked at Euromin?

TF – Since 1994.

D – Were you there before Martell?

TF – No.

D – Did you rely on the man in the hold?

TF – Yes.

D – What responsibilities has the stevedore?

TF – He controls what happens in the hold and he passes instructions to the banksman.

D – The man in the hold must say if the chains are too low?

TF – Yes.

D – If the chains are at the correct height is the grab still well clear of the men?

TF – Yes.

D – Had you ever seen chains shortened to lift bags?

TF – No.

D – Is it best to keep the chains long?

TF – Yes.

D – The decision to shorten must be made by the Liebherr driver?

TF – Yes.

D – If the grab closes this must be either mechanical failure or pilot error?

TF – Yes.

D – Were the machines well maintained?

TF – Yes.

D – Did Harris keep his hands on the levers?

TF- Jim always took his hands off the levers while he was waiting.

D – How much notice did you have when the grab closed when you were in the hold?

TF – I could hear the hydraulics, see the movement, I don't remember.

D – Do you need a certificate to drive the shovel?

TF – Yes.

D – Was no-one else available to drive the shovel?

TF – No.

D – Does it take one to one and a half hours to change the grab for the hook?

TF – No, a lot less than that.

D – Why would you change the grab for the hook?

TF – Lifting bags on the grab does it no good. If there were a lot of bags you would use the hook.

D – Would it be the machine driver's decision to use the grab or the hook?

TF – Yes.

D – On the 24 th April there was a member of Liebherr's staff on site who must have seen how the lifting was being done?

TF – Yes.

D – If they weren't satisfied they would have said something?

TF – No.

D – Was Grant effectively the site foreman?

TF – Yes.

D – Was he worse than useless?

TF – Yes.

D – Martell got in a safety consultant early in 1997?

TF – Yes.

D – Were hooks welded to the grab to make lifting safer?

TF – No to make it easier.

D – Was it easier?

TF – Yes.

D – Were you sent on courses in 1996/97?

TF – Yes.

D – After Simon was killed you couldn't understand how it had happened?

TF – No. Sean must have put Simon in danger but there should still have been a safety margin. It was just an unfortunate accident.

 

P – Jim made the basic decision on the attachment, was anyone else involved?

TF – Sometimes it was Jim sometimes someone from the office tells him like Roger Grant.

P – When the grab had closed on previous occasions, were the chains at full length?

TF – Yes.

P – Is 102 bags a large amount of bags?

TF – Yes.

P – So that's why you couldn't understand why the grab was being used?

TF – Yes.

P – How many Liebherr people were there that day?

TF – One.

P – Who else was there?

TF – Steve Watson from Pyecroft engineering.

P – He went to the shed, did you see him?

TF – I imagine I did he was in and out of the shed.

P – Are you sure you saw him?

TF- Yes.

P – You left the shovel and went to the toilet and you met the man from Liebherr?

TF – Yes.

P – Did you go anywhere else?

TF – Yes. The canteen.

P – Mr Martell said he was concerned about safety. How concerned was he?

TF – I don't know I just got the instructions from Mick.

P – Where were the instructions from?

TF – From the office – whoever is in charge.

P – Is that where Grant is normally?

TF – Yes every day.

P – If someone gave instructions by phone, who would that be?

TF – James Martell.

 

J – If the chains were shorter the grab would come closer to the men?

TF – Right.

J – If you were the banksman and you had seen the chains were short and the grab was too low, what would you do?

TF – Get the grab out.

J – Mr Currey didn't know the grab had closed on previous occasions?

TF – No. He wasn't working there then.