System Defects Killed Construction Worker

A Co Antrim construction worker - who drowned after falling into an underground water tank - was doing the job of three employees, an inquest has ruled.

The 47-year-old victim, Sean Patrick Johnson, of Dervock, died in the incident, which took place in October 2006 at a NI Water waste treatment plant in Portrush.

An inquest jury in Coleraine said that while the exact cause of the accident was unknown due to the fact there had been no direct witnesses, there were "defects in the system of working which contributed to the accident".

The jury ruled Mr Johnston was "one man doing a three man job" and said there were "unclear instructions" regarding the work he was involved in.
News Image
The jury also cited "inadequate supervision" at the West Bay pumping station, while ruling that Mr Johnson being a non-swimmer contributed to the circumstances of his death.

Mr Johnston had started working as a telescopic handler on the construction site just four days before his death.

He was employed by John Graham Ltd to help build a waste treatment plant for the Water Service, with the aim of improving the water quality at bathing beaches.

John Graham Ltd has already been fined several thousand pounds at Antrim Crown Court after pleading guilty to charges brought against them by the Health & Safety Executive in connection with the case.

Mr Johnson plunged more than 10 feet into the water as he worked to move steel mesh which formed a temporary covering on top of the six-metre well, which was around half full with water.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

17 January 2020
Limavady Blaze Ruled Deliberate
A house fire in Limavady, Co L'Derry has been ruled as arson by the NIFRS. Police are appealing for information following the "reckless act" in the Coolessan Walk area of the town shortly before midnight on Thursday night, 16 January.
02 November 2010
Builders 'Need Water Charges', Says RICS
A leading construction professional has reacted positively to this week's DUP policy document on dealing with Northern Ireland's financial crisis. However, he also disagreed with the First Minister, Peter Robinson's opposition to water charges.
05 December 2005
Derry firm fined £4,000 for oil spill
A Londonderry firm has been fined £4,000 following an oil spill on their premises. Ardmore Precast Concrete Ltd from Balybogie Road in the city was found to have several large oil tanks immediately beside a stream which flowed into the River Faughan.
16 March 2004
PSNI now have most up to date equipment
The PSNI have now the most up to date equipment to deal with public disorder, Security Minister Jane Kennedy has said. Ms Kennedy's comments follow the publication of the medical statement and ACPO guidance which allows the PSNI to make operational use of their new water cannons.
01 July 2003
Report shows NI drinking water in the clear
Northern Ireland's drinking water has met the required standards of cleanliness according to a new report The statutory 2002 Drinking Water Quality Report indicated that 98.55% of all tests carried out on samples taken from customers’ taps complied with the regulatory standards set by the Water Quality Regulations (Northern Ireland) for 2002.