‘Safety conscious’ man crushed by crane at Dublin Port, inquest hears

Terminal supervisor says ‘everyone kind of knew it was an unsafe environment’

A crane driver at Dublin Port sustained catastrophic injuries after he was run over by the wheel of a machine he was due to operate, an inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court has heard. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

A crane driver at Dublin Port sustained catastrophic injuries after he was run over by the wheel of a machine he was due to operate, an inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court has heard. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

A crane driver at Dublin Port sustained catastrophic injuries after he was run over by the wheel of a machine he was due to operate.

Stephen Bayfield (46), of Balruddery Wood, Balrothery, Co Dublin, was returning from his lunch break when the incident happened just before 2pm on October 28th 2011.

Mr Bayfield, described at an inquest into his death as “intelligent and safety conscious”, was gesturing to a truck driver at Dublin Ferry Port Cargo Terminal when he was struck by the 5ft high wheel of the slow-moving crane, which rolled over him and then reversed back.

Crane driver Pierce Keogh was in the glass bottomed cab 60ft above ground level when he realised what happened.

“I heard (colleague) Joe McNally screaming at me over the radio saying, ‘Whoa.’ I saw Stephen pinned under the tyre. I moved the machine back to take it off his body,” he said.

“If I could turn back the clock I would. I knew Stephen for six years. I think of him every day,” Mr Keogh said.

Haulier Patrick Smith witnessed the incident from the cab of his truck.

“I noticed a man in a yellow jacket...he was beckoning me to reverse. Then I saw the man fall forward as the wheels of the RTG (rubber-tyre gantry) caught his heels, then moved up along his body. There was no time to react. I felt helpless,” he said.

Mr Bayfield was killed instantly due to multiple traumatic injuries. He was identified by his mobile phone and watch, both gifts from his wife Julie Bayfield.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard how there was no safety systems in place for crane drivers crossing the cargo area at the time of the incident. Health and Safety Inspector Padraic McMahon described the changeover system for drivers as “ad-hoc”.

“There was no defined area (for the changeover) with no defined walkways for employees,” he said.

Independent engineer Frank Cronin carried out a review of the traffic system in the cargo area on behalf of the HSA.

“There was no traffic management system in place to manage the interface between staff and machinery. The system at the time of the accident had apparently grown from convenience,” Mr Cronin said.

The court heard that drivers would move the crane as close to the canteen as possible before changing over.

“Everyone kind of knew it was an unsafe environment to work but just got on with it,” Terminal Supervisor John Dempsey said.

A series of safety measures have since been implemented including fenced off walkways, a designated changeover area and radios for drivers to communicate.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure due to the risk presented by the lack of safety procedures. They recommended that a risk assessment be revisited regularly and asked that a safety representative be appointed to deal with staff safety issues on site.