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Tragedy at bridge job remains a mystery

MYSTERY still surrounds the death of a construction worker who died after a scaffolding cradle collapsed during a renovation job on Hammersmith Bridge in west London.

Brian Wealands suffered massive head injuries in a fall on to a barge underneath the bridge. A jury at Hammersmith Coroners Court returned an open verdict last week following an inquest.

The inquest was told that Mr Wealands, who was working for Southampton firm CLC Contractors, was grit- blasting old paint from the underside of the bridge. He was standing on a scaffold cradle supported by six ropes. A skip to catch the rubbish was below him on a barge.

Key Scaffolding employee Paul Spraggs was subcontracted to CLC to erect the structure. Mr Spraggs told the jury that he believed the collapse was caused by the boat pulling the cradle or it being overloaded with grit.

He said the design had worked for 12 months before the accident and was still being used without any problems.

A council environmental officer, who had inspected the site on the morning of the tragedy, said: I saw nothing unusual. Had I done, I would have brought it to the contractors attention.

Health and Safety inspector Andrew East said: Failure in the winch mechanism is the most plausible explanation.