Sunday 22 April 2018

Building firm fined €140,000 over tragic death of GAA star

Brian Óg Maguire in action for Fermanagh during the All Ireland Football Championship in 2011
Brian Óg Maguire in action for Fermanagh during the All Ireland Football Championship in 2011

Lesley-Anne McKeown

The death of a Gaelic footballer at a Co Fermanagh concrete factory was "avoidable", safety chiefs have said.

Fermanagh county player Brian óg Maguire was killed when a 125-metre steel rope snapped and struck him as he worked on a reinforced concrete slab.

The 24-year-old had been tightening the cable when it whipped back and splayed.

Quinn Building Products was yesterday fined £100,000 (€140,000) after pleading guilty to two health and safety breaches at Omagh Crown Court.

Mr Maguire's parents, Brian and Eileen, later said it was "an accident waiting to happen".

"The penalty imposed on the company responsible for the death of Brian óg is of very little relevance to us nor will it ease in any way the desperate situation we have been left in," they told the BBC. "For them, it may be over today, but for us it will go on forever."

Mr Maguire, who was in a safety cage, was hit by two metal strands with a force estimated at six tonnes.

The accident happened at Quinn Building Products precast factory at Gortmullan, Co Fermanagh, in September 2012.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) found three wedge segments which gripped the steel rope had signs of wear and damage.

In addition, the tapered barrel, in which the grips were positioned, was worn beyond the manufacturer's recommended limits.

Investigators also found the firm 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 the critical items.

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."

In a statement, the company said, although it was not involved in the business at the time of the tragedy, directors accepted the shortcomings that existed at the time.

The firm said it has worked closely with the HSE to ensure there could be no repeat of the accident.

"Brian's death remains a tragic loss to his family, his community and his work-colleagues, and he is sadly missed by all his friends throughout the business," it added.

Irish Independent

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