Shropshire Star

Worker crushed to death in collapse at factory near Whitchurch, court told

A Spanish worker died in a “Russian Roulette” tragedy during demolition work at a factory near Whitchurch, it has been claimed.

Mereside Industrial park at Fenns Bank

Jose Canal, 32, was killed in July 2015 in the tragedy at Fenns Bank, when a hopper collapsed at an aluminium recycling plant.

Mr Canal was one of a team of seven Spaniards working for a sub-contracting firm at the Befesa aluminium waste recycling plant at Mereside Industrial Park.

The company Porvi Construcciones y Contratas- which is Spanish - pleads not guilty but is not attending the trial at Caernarfon Crown Court, nor is it represented by lawyers.

Judge Huw Rees told the jury not to speculate nor be influenced by this.

Mereside Industrial park at Fenns Bank

The Spanish company faces two corporate charges, of failing to ensure that employees and non-employees were not exposed to risk.

Nigel Lawrence QC prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive reminded the jury that they were not being asked to consider a verdict in relation to fault or cause of the accident, but about exposure to risk.

“There are a multitude of sins which exposed people to potential harm,” declared the QC.

“What was going on was a model of Russian Roulette - the hopper was going to collapse at some stage.

"They performed well below the proper standards, with multiple basic failings.”

He said Mr Canal was involved in demolition and installation work in a crushing shed.

He was on a platform cutting through a steel beam which supported a hopper and was in a full body harness which was not anchored.

The worker was killed when the hopper, which had not been supported by chains, collapsed in a cloud of dust once beams had been cut.

A crane had not been used in the operation because it was unloading outside.

The QC told the jury: “It was bit like cutting the legs off an animal, which would fall over if you don’t have some form of alternative support.”

He added: ”There was no supervision and proper planning. Mr Canal was not provided with any form of protection.”

The case is expected to last into next week.