Friday 17 November 2017

Truck dealer fined €20,000 for failing to fix fatal crane flaw before selling it on

Conor Gallagher

A TRUCK dealership owned by millionaire Pino Harris sold on a crane, which had already caused the death of a worker, without fixing the fault that led to the fatality, a court has heard.

J Harris Assemblers bought the crane, which was mounted on a truck, from a company that had allegedly removed safety sensors leading to the death of one of its workers. J Harris Assembler then sold on the truck to another company without reinstalling the sensors.

It was fined €20,000 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty that on September 4, 2003, it supplied a Hino Grab Crane Lorry that had not been properly inspected as required by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989.

Judge Martin Nolan said there was an obvious defect in the lorry when it was sold on and that it was no excuse that the accused company did not specialise in cranes.

He said he accepted that the company probably didn't know exactly what had caused the man's death when it resold the vehicle but that an inspection should have been carried out.

Judge Nolan imposed a €20,000 fine against J Harris and ordered it to pay the costs of the prosecution.

Martin O'Dea of the Health and Safety Authority told prosecuting counsel Remy Farrell SC that in November 2002 the vehicle was owned by South Midland Construction, which had bought it from J Harris.

Sensors mounted on the crane had been removed which allowed the crane to pass over the area where the operator stood. On November 23, a worker operating the vehicle was killed when the crane arm came down on him.

South Midland Construction was fined €100,000 for the death and it later sold the crane back to J Harris. In September 2003 J Harris resold the lorry onto SBC Utilities.

During a subsequent examination of the vehicle by the HSA, it was discovered that the crane sensors were still missing and that it still had the potential to cause a fatal accident.

J Harris co-operated with the investigators but there was no decision to prosecute the firm until 2008. Judicial review proceedings were taken because of the delay but the case proceeded.

Defence counsel Ronan Murphy SC said the company, which employs 55 people, specialised in trucks and not cranes.

He said there was no direct evidence that the company knew the sensors were missing and that it was an isolated omission.

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