Thursday 18 January 2018

Firm fined after boy crushed to death by telephone pole

Desmond Dyas (3) with his mother, Annamarie. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson
Desmond Dyas (3) with his mother, Annamarie. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh

A SHIPPING company has been fined €25,000 for safety breaches after a little boy was crushed to death by a one-tonne telephone pole.

The firm, Patrick Monahan (Drogheda) Ltd, was fined for a breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work regulations as a result of the tragedy at Drogheda Port.

Desmond Dyas (3) and his father, also Des, had been walking along a public right of way at the port, watching poles being loaded onto trucks. Mr Dyas held his son's hand as the boy walked along a single pole lying on the ground.

As the child walked back along the pole on his own, poles from a nearby stack became dislodged while they were being lifted onto a truck and one of them rolled onto Desmond, crushing him.

His father tried in vain to lift the 22-metre timber pole off the child but a loader had to be used to lift it.

Company director Michael Ronayne pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to the safety breach, which occurred on November 10, 2009 at the town quay in Drogheda.

On behalf of the company, he admitted failing to ensure that members of the public were not exposed to risk.

Safety

Mark Madigan, an inspector with the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), said the boy "wanted to walk it free from his Dad's hand and as he reached the end of the pole the accident took place".

The court heard that the ends of the poles in two of the stacks were intertwined. As a result, when one of the poles in the second stack was lifted, it caused others in the first stack to move.

Three rolled forward from the first stack and "one hit Desmond junior on the legs before rolling onto his chest and crushing him".

The court heard that safety devices called 'chocks' were only on one of the four stacks. The chock would prevent the poles rolling forward.

The company did not have a risk assessment for this section of the port, but it did for Tom Roes Point, where it normally carried out such work.

The HSA said the company could have had an exclusion zone "to ensure the public were kept at a safe distance".

Jonathan Kilfeather, defending, said the company was shocked and saddened at the tragic death of the child. It had, he said, co-operated with the HSA and settled civil proceedings taken in relation to the death. He added that this was "an indication of the attitude and genuine remorse of the company".

Judge Michael O'Shea said: "The loss of Desmond Dyas junior is incalculable and whatever I say cannot bring him back."

He was "a youngster doing what any young child should be doing". The judge added that the failure to have the safety chocks in place in the stacks "was a major contributing factor" in the tragedy.

Irish Independent

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