Co. Fermanagh firm receives £100,000 fine after health and safety failures result in employee fatality
QUINN Building Products Ltd have been fined £100,000, plus costs of just over £7,700, at Omagh Crown Court after previously pleading guilty to two health and safety breaches that resulted in the death of an employee in 2012.
The case arose following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) into a fatal accident which occurred in the company’s precast concrete factory at Gortmullan, Co. Fermanagh.
On 13 September 2012, 24-year-old-employee Brian Óg Maguire was tensioning a steel rope measuring approximately 125m in length in preparation for the manufacture of precast concrete slabs.
During the tensioning process, the steel rope came adrift at one end and travelled with force towards Mr Maguire who was positioned in a safety cage.
Tragically, the steel rope was forced behind Mr Maguire where it struck an object and splayed. Two of the individual strands from the splayed rope struck Mr Maguire causing fatal injuries.
The HSENI investigation revealed that three wedge segments which grip the steel rope showed signs of wear and damage. In addition, the tapered barrel, in which the grips were positioned, was worn beyond the manufacturer’s recommended limits.
Ultimately, this resulted in the rope gradually slipping through the grips during tensioning and being released with a force estimated to have been in the region of 6 tonnes.
The company did not have suitable arrangements in place to check the grips and barrels were suitable to use, nor did it have a proper system to manage the use and rotation of these safety critical items.
After the hearing, Louis Burns, an inspector with HSENI, said: ‘Whilst the steel rope behaved in a somewhat unexpected manner when it came adrift, it is clear that the company had not implemented a robust system to manage, inspect and maintain safety-critical equipment in this high-risk industry.
‘This tragic incident was avoidable and it is hard to overstate the potential for death or serious injury arising from poor maintenance.
‘Care must be taken to properly identify safety for critical items in any process and to ensure that the correct people, equipment and systems of work are provided to maintain these. It wasn’t on this occasion and a life was needlessly lost as a result.’