Claxton Engineering workers crushed under steel, inquest hears

(clockwise from top left) Daniel Hazelton, Adam Taylor, Thomas Hazelton, Peter Johnson Image copyright Contributed
Image caption Daniel Hazelton, Adam Taylor, Thomas Hazelton and Peter Johnson (clockwise from top left) were all killed

Four men were crushed under 13 tonnes of steel at an engineering firm after a structure collapsed "like a folding picnic table", an inquest has heard.

The workers from Suffolk were building a test facility at Claxton Engineering in Great Yarmouth on 21 January 2011.

Daniel Hazelton, 30, his 26-year-old brother Thomas Hazelton, Adam Taylor, 28, and Peter Johnson, 42, died.

Procurement manager Mark Aylen told the inquest he had seen the men not wearing safety helmets.

He told the jury he questioned the men about this, and that they claimed the hats had a tendency to fall off.

Asphyxia due to trauma

The brothers and Mr Johnson were from Stanton near Bury St Edmunds, while Mr Taylor was from nearby Rickinghall.

They had been carrying out a contract for the offshore industry supply company, working in a 2m (7ft) deep hole which measured 23m x 3m (75ft x 10ft) across, the inquest at the Sprowston Manor Hotel in Norwich heard.

Image caption Claxton carries out engineering projects for the offshore industry at North River Road

A steel reinforcing cage, comprising 39 tonnes of steel and 330 tonnes of concrete, was being erected inside it.

Jonathan Elvin, a Health and Safety Executive investigator, told the court the excavated hole was wet and the men were reinforcing sheet pilings when the steel toppled "collapsing like a folding picnic table".

Post-mortem examinations revealed they all died of asphyxia due to trauma.

Safety 'concerns'

The men were working for Hazegood Construction, of which Daniel Hazelton was a director.

Mark Aylen, procurement manager for Claxton, told the court he had seen the men not wearing safety helmets and using grinders and other equipment without wearing safety glasses.

He said when he questioned them about this, they told him hard hats fell off and that safety glasses steamed up.

He also said he was concerned when he saw Daniel Hazleton "squeezing himself" between the reinforcing bars of the structure they were building.

He said he raised this, but was told it was the only way the work could be carried out.

  • This story was amended on 19 February to clarify evidence around the use of safety equipment.

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