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Company and Plant Foreman Fined for Safety Breaches Resulting in Man’s Death

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Fines of €30,000 and €10,000 were imposed on a company (Terralift Ireland Ltd) and plant foreman (Mr Robert Woods) respectively, today (Wednesday 25th June) by Judge John O'Hagan in Monaghan Circuit Criminal Court.


The company, Terralift (Ireland) Ltd, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 8(2) contrary to Section 77 (9) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, in that it failed to manage and conduct work activities to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety health and welfare at work of employees.


Mr Woods, a plant foreman in the Terralift (Ireland) Ltd facility in Tullynahattina Castleblayney Co. Monaghan, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 14(b) contrary to Section 77 (2) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, in that a person shall not intentionally, recklessly or without reasonable cause place at risk the safety, health or welfare of persons in connection with work activities.


The case arose as the result of an investigation into an accident resulting in the death of Mr. Juris Baiskis (34 years).

On the 14th September 2010 at circa 11.30am in the Terralift (Ireland) Ltd facility in Tullynahattina Castleblayney Mr Baiskis, an employee of Terralift, was working on a roof and fell approximately 7 metres to the ground through a fragile roof light.


The emergency services were called and Mr Baiskis was immediately taken to hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda*.
The court heard that on the morning of the accident Mr Baiskis was instructed along with two other operatives, by the plant foreman Mr Woods, to commence the process of cleaning the roof and guttering. Mr Woods made the operatives aware of the existence of the roof lights on the roof the operatives were instructed to 'mind themselves and watch out for the roof lights'.


The company safety statement and safety management systems signed by the managing director, Mr William Rex Kimberly, were prepared in April 2010. The activity of working on roofs was identified as a high risk activity. The safety statement further identified particular control measures required to prevent falls whilst undertaking such work on roofs.


The investigation found that no such control measures or equipment was provided by the company for use by the operatives whilst undertaking this work activity.


The plant Foreman/ Supervisor (Mr Woods) having been involved in the development of the company safety statement;

  • was aware that working on roofs was a high risk activity that was undertaken from time to time,
  • was aware of the requirements and control measures identified in the safety statement for carrying out such works, and
  • was aware of and instructed the operatives to undertake this work activity on the roof.

 

Terralift (Ireland) Ltd, as an employer of Mr Baiskis, was aware the high risk activity of and the need to work on roofs. The company failed in its responsibilities in that;

  • the safety critical equipment required to carry out such work activity was not available to the operatives on the day of the incident,
  • Mr Baiskis or the other operatives were not trained to work on roofs,
  • anchorage points required to provide safe means of working on roofs were not provided, and
  • safe means of access to the roof was not provided.


Speaking after sentencing, Mr Brian Higgission, Assistant Chief Executive with the Health and Safety Authority said, "Any work that is carried out at a height must be managed in a way that does everything possible to reduce the risks of a fall. The appropriate equipment must be used and the risk from fragile surfaces must be recognised and controlled.

"Employers and those in control of places of work, such as supervisors and managers, have responsibilities to ensure that risk assessments and safety statements are not just paper exercises, but are implemented as part of a safety management system. In this case there were clear failures which had tragic consequences."

Ends


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