A joiner died after part of a shop weighing half a tonne collapsed on him as he helped refit a jewellers store.
Michael Kelly was part of a team of workers deployed by Glasgow-based Barbour Shopfitters to overhaul the Ernest Jones shop at the Potteries Shopping Centre.
But on the third day of the project the 26-year-old, of Ayr in Scotland, suffered fatal head injuries after a section of the unit’s fascia fell and struck his head and body.
An inquest at Hanley Town Hall yesterday heard how Kelly had hoped his trip to the Potteries would be his last job before starting his own construction company.
It was reported that health and safety inspectors criticised the firm carrying out the work inside the mall after claiming staff failed to carry out a proper assessment of the stability of the structure.
After hearing evidence, the inquest jury returned a unanimous verdict of accidental death.
After being struck by the fascia on July 6, 2011, three men managed to lift the heavy 15ft structure off him.
Paramedics attended, but Kelly was later pronounced dead at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
His mother Jessica Kelly, who attended the hearing with relatives and Kelly’s girlfriend, said her son was a ‘happy and healthy’ man.
She said: “He called me on the Wednesday morning just to let me know some friends were going to collect his van which needed repairs and bring it to my house. He seemed fine.”
Mrs Kelly, who broke down in tears following the inquest’s conclusion yesterday evening, added: “I had a phone call at about 4.15pm telling me there had been an accident.
“A couple of hours later a police officer came round to tell me my son had died.”
An investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive.
HSE inspector Graham Barns said the fascia – held up by between nine and 18 screws that would normally be used ‘to put up shelves at home’ – became unstable once the unit below had been removed.
The inquest heard the site foreman say the fascia was difficult to inspect due to the area being painted black.
Barns said it should have been reassessed after the celing had been removed – meaning workers would have taken precautions to stabilise it.
He added: “This incident has highlighted weaknesses in the shopfitting industry. They have weaknesses in understanding construction and how things are put together.”
Source: Construction Enquirer
Lighthouse Safety Comments: It is a very sad situation when you have news of a young lad that does not have a Dad. Think about your staff, what if? If something happens could I live with that? Take your time and get it right.