Birmingham & Black Country

Nechells scrapyard deaths: Safety adviser 'not asked to check wall'

Victims of the wall tragedy
Image caption The men who died were (clockwise from top left): Muhamadou Jagana Jagana, Alimamo Jammeh, Saibo Sillah, Bangally Dukureh and Ousmane Diaby

A safety adviser was not asked to assess the risks of walls at a scrapyard where five workers died, an inquest has heard.

Michael White had provided advice before a 15ft (4.6m) concrete wall fell at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham in 2016.

He said in the year before the collapse he was there for a total of 12 hours.

The firm said he was responsible for risk assessments and had not raised any concerns over building concrete blocks.

Ousmane Diaby, 39, Bangally Dukureh, 55, Saibo Sillah, 42, Muhamadou Jagana, 49, Alimamo Jammeh, 45, died at the plant on Aston Church Road in Nechells.

Birmingham Coroner's Court has heard hundreds of tonnes of metal spilled on top of them, after a wall dividing two bays collapsed at the site, now known as Shredmet.

Mr White said he had "no knowledge" how long the wall had been there, who built it or what its purpose was.

In a statement read by coroner Emma Brown, Mr White said he could not recall "a health and safety review on a formal basis" with Shredmet Ltd managing director Wayne Hawkeswood since 2010.

He said: "I was never consulted by Wayne Hawkeswood or (director) Graham Woodhouse on the erection or dismantling of any wall or never asked to provide a risk assessment for such."

Mr White said he had spent 12 hours at the site after a new business was set up in Lye he was told to spend more time there and at another site in Nechells.

Image caption Emergency crews rushed to the scene in Nechells

However, Mr Woodhouse said the adviser was "responsible for carrying out comprehensive and accurate risk assessments of significant risks" at the site.

The director said Mr White never raised any worries "in relation to the construction of the concrete blocks following his monthly site audits".

In a statement, he said: "I do not recall Michael ever identifying any concerns regarding the bay walls, either verbally or within a site inspection report."

Managing director Mr Hawkeswood said in a statement he "simply cannot comprehend how this happened".

He added: "I am absolutely devastated by the deaths of the five men and constantly think about the loss their family and friends have suffered."

The inquest continues.

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