“They were robbed of their lives” - families of Barry Joy and Daniel Timbers call for justice over factory deaths
- Credit: Archant
The family of two factory workers killed in an explosion said they were 'robbed of their lives' and hope 'justice can be done' after the inquests into their deaths.
A jury recorded a narrative conclusion in the deaths of Daniel Timbers and Barry Joy after being told 'the law and the evidence' does not allow them to find they were killed unlawfully.
Mr Timbers, 28, was working alongside Mr Joy, 56, in the paint spray booth of the Harford Attachments factory on Spar Road on July 13, 2015 when there was an explosion and a fireball, Norfolk Coroner's Court heard.
The inquest heard details of working practices at the factory, including health and safety systems and the construction of the spray booth which had been bought from RAF Lyneham.
Summing up the case, area coroner Yvonne Blake described colleagues who made attempts to rescue the two men as 'very brave'.
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She also ruled out a conclusion of unlawful killing, as the exact cause of the fire could not be determined.
'As a matter of law and based upon the evidence this is not a case of unlawful killing, suicide, natural causes or industrial disease,' she told the jury.
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She added: 'You have heard evidence about the - I must say very brave - attempts to go in and save Mr Joy and Mr Timbers.'
She also quoted the Health and Safety Executive report from specialist inspector Brian Mills.
'He said the very many potential sources of ignition made it a probability something may occur that led to an explosion,' she said. 'It may never be known with absolute certainty but what can be said is the lack of control shown by the company made it almost inevitable a coincidence of ignition and flammable vapours would occur.'
In his report Mr Mills said the two most likely causes of the explosion were sparks from the nearby welding booths or poor installation of the equipment.
Mr Mills had previously given evidence that ventilation in the paint spray booth was switched off before the explosion, potentially leading to a build-up of flammable fumes.
CCTV footage shown to the jury showed welding work going on near to the paint spray booth before the booth erupts into flames and black smoke billows out of it.
'It's quite compelling when you see welding sparks flying over the wall of a welding booth and it's almost coincident with the explosion event occurring,' said Mr Mills.
He said there are 'such things as coincidences', before noting the bay where welding was taking place was 'about 10 metres' from the paint spray booth, that the doors on the booth were open and ventilation had been turned off.
Mr Mills said a 205-litre drum inside the paint spray booth had exploded and showered it with its flammable contents.
'When the drum exploded it would have taken off like a rocket, hit the ceiling and come down to rest on its side,' he said.
He said this 'showered the inside of the booth with gun wash, a mixture of paint and thinners', and that the booth's walls were deformed by the explosion.
'First you have the explosion, then afterwards anybody nearby enveloped in a flaming fireball of material,' said Mr Mills.
Managing director of Harford Attachments Steve Kidd repeatedly refused to answer questions at the inquest under legal advice.
Post-mortem examinations recorded that Mr Joy, of Spencer Street, Norwich and Mr Timbers, of Dereham Road, Norwich, both died as a result of the effects of fire and inhalation of fumes of combustion.
The jury took two hours deliberating to reach a narrative conclusion.
The foreman identified in the conclusion that there was no record of relevant training or risk assessments relating to the spray booth.
After the hearing an HSE spokesperson said: 'Our thoughts remain with the families of Barry Joy and Daniel Timbers. We have fully supported the inquest process; three operational inspectors and a scientist from HSE's Science Division have given evidence to the jury.
'Our own investigation into this incident is on-going. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.'
James Jevon, an associate at BLM, said on behalf of Harford Attachments Ltd: 'The deaths of Mr Barry Joy and Mr Daniel Timbers are a matter of the most profound regret to Mr Kidd, his family and all those associated with Harford Attachments Ltd.
'Barry and Daniel were well regarded and much-liked work colleagues and friends, and their loss has been keenly felt.
'You will appreciate the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive is still ongoing and consequently it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.'
'This was no accident'
Ash Timbers, Daniel's brother, said in a statement on behalf of the family: 'This was no accident, this was due to poor management in health and safety, and the lack of all the relevant risk assessments.
'These would have pinpointed all the risks and could have been easily dealt with making it a safe environment for work.
'Both men have been robbed of their lives.
'Dan was a great guy. He was a great son, brother and partner and most of all he was a brilliant dad to his son. He has been robbed of seeing his boy grow up.
'Dan went to this job for the sole purpose of improving himself so he could provide a better life for his son. Not only has Dan been robbed of seeing his son grow up his son has been robbed of a great dad who put all his efforts into his son.
'Dan is loved by many and missed by many. But most of all he is missed by his son.
'Mr Kidd has shown no remorse or admitted his failures in health and safety or his failure in carrying out risk assessments. He has made no formal apologies for the deaths of Dan and Barry to either of the families.'
'We miss our dad'
Rebecca Spruce, Charlie Joy's girlfriend, issued a statement on behalf of Charlie and his brother Harry.
'Due to the complete and utter disrespect of at Harford Attachments Ltd and their manager Steve Kidd we are here today,' they said.
'To not provide our dad and Dan with a safe place to work and no training they are not with us today.
'We hope going forward that the Health and Safety executive and his team can make sure and set an example of how seriously health and safety should be taken in the workplace.
'We would like to thank the health and safety team on all the work they have done so far and also ongoing. We would also like to thank the coroner and her staff.
'Lastly Barry and Dan were in no way responsible for their deaths, and any risks in that booth should have been removed by management.
'We miss our dad so much and hopefully justice can now be done.'