“We will spend time on legal debates. Don’t take this as a disrespect to your child’s memory. From the beginning of the hearing, the president of the court spoke with the victim’s mother. Sitting on the civil party bench, Erwan Perrot’s mother listened in silence for nearly four hours of technical discussions, holding her son’s photo in her hand. Erwan Perrot, 22, was killed on August 22, 2019, while working on removing asbestos from a hangar at the Nexter site in La Chapelle-Saint-Ursin.
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Erwan Perrot was hired by the Saint-Amand-Montrond-based company ABC Environnement, which specializes in asbestos removal. On that day, he lays down the roof of the shed with a colleague. Just before 9 am, the operator fell from the roof, from a height of 5.5 m. In cardiac arrest, he died a few hours after being transported to the hospital.
The security measures in question
The companies ABC Environnement, represented by its manager, and Nexter Munitions, represented by its deputy administrator, were charged with manslaughter for breach of obligations, namely for not respecting the prevention plan, co-signed by them, which establishes the rules site security. At the center of the debates, this Wednesday, the protective measures that did not save Erwan Perrot’s life. And, in particular, the option to have privileged individual protection measures, to the detriment of collective protection, namely a stop-fall network.
If Nexter wanted it, there would be a network.
Lydie Samour, Deputy Attorney, summed up the situation: “ABC Environnement intervenes in a workshop where production tools still exist. This results in a choice to remove asbestos through the roof. To protect the site, a circulation path, in the form of boards placed on the roof, and a lifeline are chosen. However, the lifeline was never installed and the victim had no anchor point to hang his lanyard attached to the harness. »
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On the network issue, the two companies mutually transferred responsibility for this breach. I, Eugène Bangoura, representative of ABC Environnement, pointed out Nexter’s refusal to let the asbestos removal company install the network: “ABC Environnement had thought of this in their asbestos removal plan, but it was left out of the plan. Nexter and co-signed by the two companies. The argument was that a metal structure would have to be drilled through and that there was pyrotechnic risk due to possible sparks. But if Nexter wanted it, there would be a net. »
50,000 fine for each of the two companies
For Me Corinne Potier, a lawyer at Nexter Munitions, “no drilling orders were placed when it would have been possible to do so. The company that took over the ABC Environnement job did it well. »
On the issue of the lifeguard that was never installed, the manager of ABC Environnement, who did not go to the site, cannot “explain”: “We had a lifeguard. She was never found. I don’t put cost before security. Mr. Bangoura highlights Nexter’s co-responsibility here: “It is up to the requesting company to guarantee the coordination of security measures, even those taken by external companies, and to verify that they are carried out. There was a visit from Nexter’s works manager the day before the tragedy. »
“Both companies must accept that they have their responsibility. »
His defense colleague, who asked for the release of Nexter Munitions, pointed out that “Nexter is the only company that has audited the site. The works manager saw the operators on the roof with harnesses. No anomalies were reported. The direct cause of the accident is non-compliance with safety and the direct employer is responsible for this. »
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For Karine Berthon, the victim’s mother’s lawyer, “both companies must accept that they have their responsibility. Anyone could see from the outside that there was no lifeline. Lydie Samour, the assistant attorney, who pointed to “a failure of not putting protective equipment on a lifeline” for ABC Environnement and “a failure of not enforcing the prevention plan” for Nexter, demanded a fine. of €50,000 for each of the two companies.
The Bourges Criminal Court reserved its decision on 20 July.