Family to sue over dock death

PUBLISHED: 14:12 24 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

THE family of Kevin Cuckow, the Felixstowe dock worker killed in an accident at the port, is suing his employers.

THE family of Kevin Cuckow, the Felixstowe dock worker killed in an accident at the port, is suing his employers.

Mr Cuckow's widow, Lorraine, was today too upset to comment on the findings of an inquest into his death.

Distraught Mrs Cuckow left Ipswich Crown Court in tears minutes after a jury recorded a unanimous verdict of accidental death into the tragedy that saw her husband crushed by a giant container as he worked from a cage suspended over a ship.

Trainee berth operator Mr Cuckow, 32, died later of massive head injuries sustained in the accident on October 11 last year.

Earlier the inquest heard how employees must work on containers below them through hatches in the floor of the cage – and are warned in training of the extreme dangers of entrapment.

Giving evidence at the day long inquest yesterday health and safety inspector Martin Kneebone said that cages similar to the one in which Mr Cuckow, of Dover Road, Ipswich, and two other trainees where working from where used throughout the UK.

"There is no doubt from the evidence we have heard that Kevin was outside the frame when the container impacted.

"We don't know, and I think we will never know, what he was doing at the time," he added.

A suggestion had been made at the inquest that Mr Cuckow, who had worked at the port for just two weeks before the accident, had dropped his hard hat and was attempting to retrieve it by reaching outside the side of the cage when the accident occurred.

Commenting on suggestions that the accident happened at a time when it had been too windy to work safely Mr Kneebone said that in his view weather conditions had not been a factor.

Since the accident some modifications have been made to the cage including binding mesh wire across the lower sections of the carrier and although he was not able to official approve the changes he was happy with their introduction, added Mr Kneebone.

An ongoing Health and Safety investigation was also looking into the possibility that the training system at the port – one of the most comprehensive in the UK and involving theory work that had to been completed at home – was in fact too detailed and difficult to take in, he said.

"We haven't closed our investigation and we would be happy to bear in mind any point brought out if this inquest."

After the inquest the Port of Felixstowe's managing director Chris Gray said: "The death of Kevin Cuckow was a tragedy and our full sympathy goes to his friends and family.

"The Port of Felixstowe treats safety as a matter of paramount importance and we spend over £2million a year on health, safety and training issues.

"Although we go to great lengths to establish safe systems, accidents do regrettably happen but whenever they do we investigate them thoroughly so we can learn from them and try to ensure they do not happen again.

"This particular accident is still the subject of a health and safety investigation and also a civil claim for compensation and we cannot say anything more at this time."

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