Tuesday 24 October 2017

Worker (31) killed by manhole cover after it was struck by rolling traffic cone as he carried out repairs, inquest hears

Mr Burczak's widow Agnieszka Burczak pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action for damages. Pic: Courts Collins
Mr Burczak's widow Agnieszka Burczak pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action for damages. Pic: Courts Collins

Louise Roseingrave

An upright manhole cover tipped over and killed a man working on it after it was struck by a rolling traffic cone hit by a passing car.

Grzegorz Burczak (31) was working to replace a seal on a manhole cover on Kill Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin following noise complaints from neighbours.

The accident happened just after 2pm on June 6 2012 and Mr Burczak was pronounced dead in the ambulance at the scene.

The man, from Hunters Brook in Delgany, Co Wicklow, was kneeling at the manhole, when a car passed by and clipped a traffic cone next to where he was working.

The traffic cone tipped over and rolled and struck the manhole cover, which tipped over and struck Mr Burczak on the head.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard how road upgrade works as part of the new Honeypark Estate development in Dun Laoghaire had been carried out 18 months previously.

Mr Burczak was tasked with fixing fresh seals on two manhole covers on Kill Avenue for RSJ Civil Limited, a civil engineering company based in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

He and a colleague completed work on one manhole cover and had moved onto the second when the accident occurred.

Passing motorist Michael Murphy was behind three other cars moving in a line of traffic along Kill Avenue when he hit the cone.

The court heard he was  'almost upon the traffic cones' before he saw them, according to Health and Safety Inspector Kevin Broderick. 

He said Mr Murphy's vision of the two traffic cones had been obscured by the traffic ahead of him.

"He hit the traffic cone, it hit the vertical man hole cover lid which came down and struck Mr Burczak on the head," Mr Broderick said.

The man was wearing a helmet but it did not prevent the resulting traumatic head injuries that caused his death.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard there were a number of health and safety failures including the lack of traffic management training provided to the two workmen on site, inadequate warning signs for approaching motorists and an insufficient number of traffic cones.

The proximity of the cones to the manhole was too close, the court heard.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and outlined three recommendations to prevent future similar accidents, including the proper use of road safety signage.

In January 2015, the victim's widow was awarded €330,000 after a High Court suit.

Agnieszka Burczak, Hunters Brook, Delgany, Co Wicklow, had had sued car driver Michael Murphy of Ardmore Park, Kill Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin and RSJ Civil Limited , a civil engineering company of South Winds, South Quay , Arklow , Co Wicklow as a result of the accident.

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