Construction companies fined for health & safety incidents

Two Co Antrim construction firms have been prosecuted for breaches of health and safety legislation, which in one case, almost led to the deaths of two workers on a building site.

McCombe Brothers (Antrim) Limited were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) over an incident which occurring during work at Dominican College, Fortwilliam Park, Belfast, on 29 January 2002.

During the building of a perimeter brick wall along an unsupported edge of a pre-cast concrete floor slab, the slab tilted and resulted in both the wall and several workers being thrown from a height of four metres to the ground.

The company was fined £2750 and ordered to pay costs for maintaining an unsafe system of work at heights - one of the most common causes of accidents in the construction industry.

The second case involved R J Armstrong Surfacing of Lisburn, who were prosecuted following an incident which took place during a road patching operation on Drumaknockan Lane, Hillsborough. The tipper body of a lorry came into contact with overhead power lines and two workers received electric shocks - which could have resulted in their deaths. The firm was fined £1500 and ordered to pay costs.

In a separate incidence, James Donaghey of Donegal was prosecuted following an accident during the construction of the Newtownstewart bypass. On 27 February 2002 Mr Donaghey was responsible for driving a tractor and trailer in such a manner that a worker at the site was knocked into an excavation. Mr Donaghey was fined £400 and costs were awarded against him.

Commenting on the cases, Ken Logan, Head of the HSENI’s Construction Group said: “Those who are prepared to breach health and safety legislation must also accept the consequences. This not only extends to companies but individuals will also be held accountable where appropriate.

"HSENI is committed to playing its part in BUILDSAFE-NI, the cross-industry partnership initiative aimed at improving the safety record of the construction industry. Too many people are shirking their responsibilities and until we have a change of attitude with all involved in the construction industry, this atrocious health and safety record will continue."

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