Concerns around maintenance following death of Rotherham man crushed by digger

Death of worker following construction site accident


An inquest into the death of a Rotherham man who was crushed by a digger has suggested that deterioration of essential machinery caused the death of Rotherham man Mr John Ferneyhough. 

Construction site accident

Mr Ferneyhough, 48, was killed on September 24, 2004 while operating a crane to lift a digger onto the back of a transporter in Ryegate Road, Tapton, Sheffield. He was working for Barnsley construction firm E. J. Lidster & Sons Ltd. where he had been a lorry driver for four years.

The digger was being used on a housing construction site. Mr Ferneyhough, who was working alone at the time of the accident, was preparing to move it for the weekend.

The chains lifting the digger broke away and it fell, crushing him to death at the scene, despite emergency services arriving within minutes.

The jury at the Medico-Legal centre in Sheffield recorded that the accident, in all probability, was as a result of thread deterioration in the hook that the lifting chains were attached to. They went on to suggest that it was most likely that this deterioration was caused by a previous pull through of the nut and hook shank, through previous overloading.

The four-day inquest took place at the Medico-Legal Centre in Watery Street, Sheffield, was conducted by Coroner Mr Christopher Dorries. He told the court that he would write to the HSE about maintenance regimes for this type of machinery and he also said he was going to write a letter to E.J. Lister & Sons Ltd about his concerns. Mr Dorries went onto explain that he did not wish to see Mr Lister up before him again in the court, and continued that as Coroner he would be there for some time.

Construction site accident solicitors

David Urpeth, a partner with national law firm Irwin Mitchell, based at its offices in Riverside, Sheffield represented Mr Ferneyhoughs family at the inquest.

He said: Mr Ferneyhoughs fatal accident was one of the most tragic cases that we have ever encountered and the inquest has dealt with many of the questions the family had regarding the circumstances surrounding Johns death although some questions will remain unanswered. The Ferneyhough family would like to thank all the witnesses who assisted by providing their contributions towards the investigation.

This tragic case highlights the need for stringent safety measures to be in place in the construction industry and emphasised the importance of regular checks on lifting equipment to ensure that all workers are protected while carrying out their duties. I hope the insurers of E J Lidster and Sons Ltd will now bring a swift conclusion to the civil claim given that liability has been admitted by them.

Mrs Janice Ferneyhough, Johns widow said: I am disappointed by the verdict as I was hoping that the coroner would allow the jury to consider a finding of unlawful killing. However I am grateful to the jury for their detailed findings.

If you have lost a loved one due to an accident at work, our serious injury solicitors could help you claim compensation to help get the answers you deserve. Visit our fatal accident claims or accidents at work claims page for more information.