Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Construction News report: Crossrail Death

A Slovakian engineer who was killed working on Crossrail may have been vulnerable because of his limited English and fellow workers’ impatience, a coroner heard today.
René Tkacik was was killed while spraying concrete 32ft below Fisher Street, Holborn, for the Bam Ferrovial Kier joint venture on last year.

At an inquest into his death at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, Mr Tkacik’s widow Renata described her husband as a 'highly experienced' sprayer who was left unsure what to do because of his 'rudimentary' English.  She claimed Mr Tkacik took a dictionary to work but colleagues were rude to him because of communication problems.  Mrs Tkacik said her husband had a 'difficult living condition' in the accommodation provided for him by his employers.

'He didn’t sleep properly and was constantly tired,' she told the court and 'his English was rudimentary and he complained to me that when he went to work he didn’t know what to do.  He always had a dictionary with him, but even that was not enough.'

She added that Mr Tkacik’s colleagues had little time for him because of his limited English, and were often 'rude'.

Demonstrators from trade unions Unite, Ucatt and GMB protested outside the court this morning, calling for the unionisation of the £15bn Crossrail project.  Placards displayed outside the court read 'No more site deaths' and 'People before profit'.  Mr Tkacik was crushed to death by a concrete slab while working in the tunnel in the early hours of 7 March 2014.

The 44-year-old was pronounced dead at 6.14am by doctors who took six minutes to get to him in the tunnel.

Mr Tkacik was left with “devastating injuries entirely incompatible with life,” and would have died instantaneously, the court heard.

His death was recorded as blunt force trauma to the head and chest.

Mrs Tkacik described her husband as a teetotaller with an eye for detail.  A toxicology report following his death showed no signs of alcohol, caffeine, or drugs in Mr Tkacik’s system.

Mrs Tkacik said he was a ‘highly qualified’ sprayer and blaster who had worked on various jobs, including tunnelling work.

When Mr Tkacik first joined Crossrail as a sprayer he passed four examinations, all set in English.
A Crossrail spokesperson said:
'Everyone who works on Crossrail was affected by this terrible incident.  Our thoughts and sympathies are with RenéTkacik’s family and colleagues.  Crossrail has a good safety record and sets the most stringent contractor safety requirements in the industry. Safety has always been, and continues to be, the number one value for Crossrail and critical to the success of the programme.  There is nothing so important on Crossrail that it cannot be done safely. This terrible incident only increased that resolve.'

No comments: