A WORKER who was crushed to death by a falling three-tonne anchor should not have been working with the equipment, an inquest has concluded.

Father-of-two Kevin Watson, 47, died at Middlesbrough dry dock in February, 2009 when the anchor fell on his chest.

The inquest at Middlesbrough Coroner's Court today (Thursday, November 8), recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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However the inquest jury also recorded the following statement which was also read out in court by deputy coroner Samuel Faulks: "At the time of the accident there was not a code of practice for the lifting and ranging of anchors and chains. Also Kevin Watson did not hold relevant qualifications for the task he was undertaking. After listening to the evidence presented, safe working practices were not adhered to."

After the verdict a tearful Joanne Ferry, Mr Watson's ex-partner who is the mother of his two children, said: "He was a fabulous guy. He was big hearted man and he adored his children. He is so missed."

Ms Ferry also expressed her concern that it had taken nearly four years for the inquest to be heard.

Earlier the inquest was told that Mr Watson, originally from Middlesbrough but living in Redcar at the time of his death, was a qualified crane driver. He was highly regarded and considered one of the most experienced men working for A&P Tees.

However he did not have certificates to work as a slinger which would have allowed him to take charge of heavy lifting on the dock floor.

The accident occurred when Mr Watson returned to an anchor which was left standing, something which was never supposed to happen. He was hooking the anchor when it fell on him. The anchor was lifted off in a matter of seconds and Mr Watson was airlifted to Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital but later died of his chest injuries.

Speaking after the hearing, Ian Douglas, general manager at A&P Tees, said: “Following the four day inquest at Middlesbrough Coroners’ Court, the company acknowledges the jury’s verdict of accidental death. “Kevin was a well liked and respected colleague and shall be remembered fondly. Our thoughts continue to be with his family.

“Since the tragic accident, we continue to invest heavily in health and safety as the well-being of our employees and those visiting our site is of paramount importance.”