A FOREMAN at the scene of an horrific industrial accident that killed a pipe layer on a motorway project told workers to carry on as usual after the accident, an inquest has been told.
Father-of-four Peter McAndrew (44), of Muckerstaff, Coolarty, Co Longford, was killed on September 22, 2008, when the nine-tonne "mini" dump truck he was driving during construction of the M3 motorway near Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, overturned into a water-filled culvert, trapping him in several feet of water beneath the vehicle.
Fellow construction worker Peter McDonald, who was employed as an excavation truck driver by a sub-contractor, said he was told by the project's foreman Paul Wilson to "carry on as if nothing had happened," following the tragic accident, the Dublin District Coroner's Court heard yesterday.
Mr McDonald said he was driving a 40-tonne Hitachi 460 excavator loaded with "heavy wet soil" when Mr McAndrew drove up beside him in his "mini" dump truck and motioned for him to fill up the mini truck with the load.
Noting that "the equipment I had was four times the size" of Mr McAndrew's truck, Mr McDonald told the inquest that he initially refused because his machine's "bucket" was six-feet wide and far too big to dump the soil into the five-foot wide "bin" of the mini truck.
But Mr Wilson, who was the on-site supervisor said: "fill it up or get off the site," he told the inquest, adding that he felt compelled to comply with his supervisor's request or risk getting sacked from the job.
Despite his concerns that his bucket was too wide and carrying a load that was more than twice the mini truck's load capacity, Mr Wilson emptied the load into Mr McAndrew's truck.
"If a health and safety officer was on site, the accident wouldn't have happened," he told the four man and four woman jury.
Mr Wilson, a foreman employed by Wills Brothers Ltd, which was subcontracted to the job by project engineers SIAC Construction and Ferrovial Agroman Ireland, denied he made such orders on the day of the accident or even spoke to Mr McDonald.
He told the inquest that he was sitting in his jeep about 50 yards from Mr McDonald when the accident happened.
However, he said that when he saw the load of soil being flattened by Mr McDonald in order for it to be deposited into the mini truck, "I thought she was too big to be loaded, but I was too late at that stage" to intervene because he was on the other side of the motorway during the load.
He also denied that the load was wet and heavy "muck" – but rather topsoil that would be used to sow grass.
The inquest resumes today.