Work practices at a Qatar World Cup stadium development site where a British worker expired last year were “downright dangerous”, a coroner in Britain probing the death stated Tuesday.
Zachary Cox, who was born in Johannesburg but later stayed in Britain, plummeted 39 metres (128 feet) when a hoist he was using to put in place a suspended walkway broke at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha in January, 2017.
British coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley found the rope-access technician had fallen head first, going through brain injuries and a broken neck, after a safety harness had also snapped.
Brighton and Hove Coroner’s Court, in southern England where Cox had lived, heard new working practices, constituting the use of extra hoists to speed up development after problems with some of the heavy metal platforms, had prior to the fatal incident.
Hamilton-Deeley called the situation as “inherently unsafe”.
She said, “The site managers at the stadium knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment.”
She also stated, “(The new system) was chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous.” Relatives of Cox, 40, stated that the coroner they have been fighting for replies from officials at the stadium’s main contractor, Midmac-Six Construct Joint Venture, and want an independent inquiry and the involvement of Britain’s Foreign Office.
In a statement after the inquest, Cox’s sisters-in-law Ella Joseph and Hazel Mayes demanded “reassurance that those responsible for making the decisions that ultimately led to Zac’s death will be held to account and justice will be served”.
A prior investigation into the death, compiled by the contractor and referenced in an annual workers’ welfare report released last June, found concerns over the development of the high platform from which Cox fell.
The joint project did not respond to a appeal for comment from AFP. Local authorities in Qatar are also conducting their own probe.
Colleague Graham Vance, from South Africa, was at first arrested over Cox’s death and kept in Qatar for 10 months but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Khalifa was the first World Cup stadium to be inaugurated in Qatar, hosting its first great event, the Emir Cup, last May. It will also be the location for the 2019 world athletics championships.
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