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?
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?
P He understood your signals?
P A banksman would only be needed for bags of stones?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
P Did you see the bags being unloaded onto the quayside?
P Did you see the banksman signalling?
TF Sort of, he was pointing and waving his hands.
P Did that make sense to you?
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?
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.
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?
P Did you know that the correct lifting hook was available at Euromin?
P Do you know why it was not used?
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?
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?
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?
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?
P Were you hooking?
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?
P Did you want to keep it secret?
P Were you formally trained in signals to British standards?
D How long had you worked at Euromin?
TF Since 1994.
D Were you there before Martell?
D Did you rely on the man in the hold?
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?
D If the chains are at the correct height is the grab still well clear of the men?
D Had you ever seen chains shortened to lift bags?
D Is it best to keep the chains long?
D The decision to shorten must be made by the Liebherr driver?
D If the grab closes this must be either mechanical failure or pilot error?
D Were the machines well maintained?
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?
D Was no-one else available to drive the shovel?
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?
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?
D If they weren't satisfied they would have said something?
D Was Grant effectively the site foreman?
D Was he worse than useless?
D Martell got in a safety consultant early in 1997?
D Were hooks welded to the grab to make lifting safer?
TF No to make it easier.
D Was it easier?
D Were you sent on courses in 1996/97?
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?
P Is 102 bags a large amount of bags?
P So that's why you couldn't understand why the grab was being used?
P How many Liebherr people were there that day?
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?
P You left the shovel and went to the toilet and you met the man from Liebherr?
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?
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.