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Qatar: Supreme Committee agrees to inquiry into British worker's death on World Cup stadium site

Zac Cox, a British male technician working on a World Cup stadium site, died in January 2017 after falling 40 metres due to failed safety equipment. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, responsible for overseeing World Cup preparations in Qatar, had reportedly failed to disclose information to the family. Pfeifer, the German construction multinational working on the stadium roof walkways on which Cox was working, also failed to respond to the family’s requests for information at this time.

Two and a half years later, the Supreme Committee has agreed to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Cox's death; it is thought to be the first investigation into the death of a worker during construction of the World Cup stadiums. The decision follows a report from a British coroner in 2018 which criticised health and safety measures at the site.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre includes this case in our Allegations Tracker of Abuse Against Migrant Workers in the Gulf. On publishing the results of our first analysis we invite Pfeifer to respond to the allegations. Their response is attached below.

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Company response
16 December 2019

Pfeifer response to the death of Zac Cox in 2017 on a Qatar World Cup site

Mr. Cox was an employee of a UK registered company that did Rope Access project work for us in Qatar. Pfeifer had retained the UK company because it is specialized and highly qualified... Mr. Cox was a certified and experienced Rope Access specialist...

Pfeifer welcomes the Supreme Committee authorizing an independent investigation regarding Mr. Cox's death. We are confident that this investigation... will clarify the circumstances surround the accident... we have committed our utmost support to this investigation. Pfeifer works very hard to provide [safe] work environments, and we feel confident that the investigation will show that we did this in connection with the Doha project, too.

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18 July 2019

Qatar agrees to inquiry into death of Briton at World Cup stadium

Author: Patrick Wintour, The Guardian

The Qatari organisation in charge of staging the 2022 World Cup has agreed to hold a wide-ranging inquiry led by a British judge into the death of a British worker during construction of a stadium for the event. The decision... is seen as a breakthrough for campaigners disturbed by health and safety issues surrounding the building of the stadiums... Campaigners said it was the first known inquiry into a specific death during the construction of World Cup stadiums. The inquiry will be conducted by Sir Robert Akenhead, a former high court judge with expertise in construction law and site accidents.

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17 November 2017

Qatar World Cup bosses offer no explanation for British worker's death

Author: Patrick Wintour, The Guardian (UK)

A 10-month effort to find out how a Briton was killed while building Qatar’s Khalifa stadium for the World Cup has been met with a wall of silence from the Qatari authorities and multinational building contractors, leaving his relatives distraught and angry. Zac Cox died in January after he fell 40 metres when his safety equipment failed. His family have been told that a report containing vital information about the circumstances of his death exists, but it has not been passed on to them or the British coroner investigating his death...The body overseeing the World Cup, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, has never communicated with the family about the accident. The German construction multinational Pfeifer – which was contracted to build the stadium roof walkways on which Cox was working – has also failed to pass on information and respond to family emails setting out their concerns. The British police have been unable to extract information from an opaque Qatari justice system, or the array of firms involved in the work...Human Rights Watch has claimed that more than 300 people have died, largely due to heat and exhaustion, on the project, although the numbers are disputed...

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22 June 2017

Qatar 2022 World Cup Migrant Worker Fatality: January 2017

Author: Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (Qatar)

On 19 January 2017 at Khalifa International Stadium, a 40-year-old British male rope-access technician was installing a catwalk system in the stadium’s roof when one end of the catwalk, supported by a lever hoist, dropped, leaving it suspended vertically. When the platform dropped, the rope technician’s lifeline became snagged, causing it to become overloaded and snap, causing him to fall 39 metres... he was immediately transported to a nearby hospital, where he passed away from multiple chest and head injuries due to the fall from height. A joint accident investigation team was established...At the time of print, a separate investigation by local authorities was still ongoing, therefore, for purposes of this report, the SC [Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy] cannot release the detailed findings. However, what can be reported is that during the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system. This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff...[T]he SC implemented checks and additional controls across all stadium sites to prevent recurrence of the incident...

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