Man's death at outer harbour site was an accident, jury concludes
- Credit: supplied by Norfolk Coroners Court
The death of a man who fell up to 14m while dismantling part of an oil rig was accidental, an inquest jury has concluded.
Stephen Picken, 62, from Stoke-on-Trent, was working at the Veolia decommissioning site at Great Yarmouth's outer harbour in October 2019 when the elevated platform he was working from was hit "with some force" by a structure toppling backwards.
He died at the scene from multiple injuries.
The inquest held at the Norfolk Coroner's Court in Norwich heard evidence over seven days, the jury reaching its conclusion on Tuesday, June 28.
It heard Mr Picken, known as Chic, was regarded as among the best in the country at what he did and was well respected in the industry.
The dangerous work he was doing involved dismantling parts of oil rigs, specifically jackets - the structures that support platforms - and also their overhangs or stabilisers.
The court heard that on the day of the accident he was cutting through an overhang which toppled backwards, hitting the cherry picker he was working from and throwing him from the basket.
It heard the work was considered "straight forward" ahead of the more complex task of dismantling the jacket.
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Summing up the evidence senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said there were procedures in place for risk assessments and method statements (RAMs) but they did not provide details for the position of the mobile platform.
While hinge cuts were talked about in the method statement, it was sit cuts that were carried out.
And work permits to do with working at height and carrying out "hot work" were also not issued.
Richard Hulland, chief risk and assurance officer with Veolia, said the company had made improvements to its safety procedures introducing new minimum requirements.
The company had also introduced "methodology sequencing" with 3D modelling, which was more visual.
The new systems would tackle issues raised during the inquest which included the issuing of work permits, management, and supervision, Mr Hulland said, adding that the company was "absolutely devastated" by Mr Picken's death.
Mrs Lake said she was satisfied by the steps taken to stop anything similar happening again, and stopped short of issuing a prevention of future deaths report.
She offered her condolences to Mr Picken's wife Gail. The couple had hoped to retire to Fuerteventura.