“We are black families, our lives matter”: Relatives of workers killed in wall collapse still waiting for justice four years on.
The families of four men killed in a horrific wall collapse say they are distraught as HSE continues to delay its decision on whether it intends to prosecute the company, four years on from the tragedy.
The men, from the Gambia and Senegal, were employed on zero-hours agency contracts and died on 7 July 2016 when a 3.6-metre wall and 263 tonnes of metal collapsed on top of them. The incident occurred at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling site in Birmingham, owned by Shredmet.
The men’s families spoke of their shock that there has been no arrest or prosecution over the deaths. The families say they have been told recently that the investigation had been delayed further, despite “repeated promises” from the HSE that it would decide whether to prosecute the scrap metal firm Shredmet, before the fourth anniversary of the tragedy.
In a joint statement, they said: "This news has caused us grief and anguish. We have met with delay at every stage of the process. We demand justice and accountability.
"We are five black families, from Gambia and Senegal; it is as if our lives do not matter. Our lives do matter."
Almamo Jammeh, 45, Ousmane Diaby, 39, Bangally Dukureh, 55, Saibo Sillah, 42, and Mahamadou Jagana, 49, were clearing out a scrap metal storage bay when they died at the plant in Nechells.
An inquest jury found the wall had been "overloaded" by the metal against it, proving too powerful a force for the wall's resistance in 2018. The inquest concluded the deaths of the men were, however, accidental, according to BBC news reports. But the fact the unstable wall had gone unnoticed had "caused or contributed" to the deaths.
More than 50 people including the bereaved wives and families of the men and their friends protested on 7 July outside the metal plant.
Families Against Corporate Killers, which campaigns to stop workers and others being killed in preventable incidents, said: “We are angry that these heartbroken, grieving families are still waiting for a decision on prosecution of those responsible, and also for the compensation to which they are entitled.”
“The injustice they have suffered is huge, unbearable almost unbelievable.”
According to BBC news, HSE said the inquiry was taking "longer than we had hoped" and said disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and changes to its legal team had added to delays.
HSE completed 65 per cent of fatal investigations within 12 months of receiving primacy last year, short of its target which is 80 per cent.
In HSE’s annual report 2018/19, it says: “There are a number of reasons for this including technical complexity, evidential challenges and delays, often caused by others, which are outside of HSE’s control.”
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