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Recycling firms face charges over deaths of five workers killed by wall collapse

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution is being brought against two companies after five workers were fatally injured and another seriously injured at a site in Birmingham.
Five workers were fatally injured and another seriously injured at a site in Birmingham. (SWNS)

Two recycling firms are facing criminal charges for a string of safety breaches after five workers were crushed to death when a concrete wall collapsed.

The 12 foot-high wall at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham gave way on the morning of 7 July 2016.

Gambian migrants Almano Jammeh, 45, Bangally Dukaray, 55, Saib Sillah, 42, and Mahamadou Jagana, 49, were killed alongside Senegal national Ousmane Diaby, 39.

The workers were clearing out a scrap metal bay when the wall that held back 263 tonnes of compressed metal briquettes – and itself consisted of six blocks each weighing six tonnes – collapsed on top of them.

Gambian migrants Almano Jammeh, 45, Bangally Dukaray, 55, Saib Sillah, 42, Mahamadou Jagana, 49, died along with Senegal-national Ousmane Diaby, 39.
Gambian migrants Almano Jammeh, 45, Bangally Dukaray, 55, Saib Sillah, 42, and Mahamadou Jagana, 49, and Senegal national Ousmane Diaby, 39, were killed.

They could only be identified by their fingerprints.

A sixth man, Tombong Conteh, survived but suffered a severe leg injury and has been unable to return to work since.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced it was bringing a prosecution against ENSCO 10101 – formerly known as Shredmet – and its predecessor Hawkeswood Metal Recycling.

Both firms face criminal charges under two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

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A prosecution has also been approved against two individuals linked to the firm. The first court hearing is yet to be confirmed.

It comes after HSE launched a three-year joint investigation with West Midlands Police.

Both firms and HSE have been contacted for comment.

In a statement, Daniel Lemberger Cooper, the solicitor for the families, said they welcomed the decision after being left devastated by the loss of the men.

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He added: "We regret that already four years have passed since they died and we ask for the criminal proceedings to progress without delay or obstruction."

A 2018 inquest heard the wall had no mortar between the blocks meaning it was held together by "gravity".

HSE inspector Martyn Ostcliffe told Birmingham Coroner’s Court at the time that the wall "could have gone at any time" due to being "overloaded" with scrap metal.

Five workers were fatally injured and another seriously injured at a site in Birmingham.
Five workers were fatally injured and another seriously injured at a site in Birmingham. (SWNS)

He added: "It only wanted a little trigger – some imbalancing factor to give it that last push to send it over.

"The wall collapsed because it was grossly overloaded. Overloading of walls is how walls fall. I don't think this was a freak accident.

"This wall was inherently unstable. This wall was used for a purpose it was not designed or built for."

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Director Wayne Hawkeswood told the proceedings he could not "comprehend how this happened".

Graham Woodhouse, also a director, said the firm's safety adviser never raised any worries "in relation to the construction of the concrete blocks" in his audits.

Jurors returned a verdict of accidental death.

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