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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

British builder died from 'inherently unsafe' practices at Qatar World Cup 2022 venue

Zac Cox plummeted 40m when a faulty hoist broke at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha

Zac Cox was killed in January 2017 at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium, one of the key venues for the 2022 World Cup. Karim Jaadar / AFP Photo
Zac Cox was killed in January 2017 at Doha's Khalifa International Stadium, one of the key venues for the 2022 World Cup. Karim Jaadar / AFP Photo

Zac Cox, a British construction worker who died in January 2017 after he fell from a Qatar 2022 World Cup football stadium site, was using “potentially lethal equipment” at the time of his death, a coroner’s inquest found.

Mr Cox, 40, who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but spent much of his life in the UK, plummeted nearly 40 metres when a faulty hoist he was using broke at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on January 19, 2017.

His safety harness also snapped and he fell head first, dying instantly on impact from brain injuries and a broken neck.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley found Mr Cox died from injuries after new work practices were introduced at the stadium, which she called “inherently unsafe”.

“The site managers at the stadium knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment," Mrs Hamilton-Deeley found.

":[The new system] was chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous.”

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Mr Cox’s sisters-in-law Ella Joseph and Hazel Mayes said they had demanded answers about his death for 13 months and had received no satisfactory responses.

In a statement after the inquest they called for an independent inquiry and for the British Foreign Office to step in.

“We demand reassurance that those responsible for making the decisions that ultimately led to Zac’s death will be held to account and justice will be served," the statement reads.

“We want to know lessons will be learnt so other families won’t suffer under similar circumstances.

“Zac was a truly special person, with a huge heart and gentle nature. We all miss him desperately.”

As The National reported this month, a South African construction worker was initially falsely blamed for Mr Cox’s death.

Graham Vance, 28, was arrested and spent one day in jail but was forced to stay in Qatar for 11 months until the police investigation had concluded. He has now returned to South Africa.

Mrs Hamilton-Deeley had previously blasted the lack of co-operation from the authorities in Qatar: “It has proved almost impossible to get information. We find ourselves in a most unsatisfactory situation for everyone. If it had been in this country, state agencies would have been investigating his death," he said.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup campaign has been dogged by controversy since the country was surprisingly named as host. There have been allegations of corruption in the voting process, and the NGO Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 300 people have died.