Builder leapt for his life after block fell off crane

Tim Healy

A BUILDING site supervisor avoided death when he jumped out of the way of a steel block weighing a third of a tonne which fell 85ft from a crane, the High Court has heard.

William Copeland (53), of Hightown Rise, Glengormley, Antrim, settled his action for damages yesterday, for injuries suffered when he was struck by the block, for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Copeland was hit on his right shoulder, arm and thigh and flung ten feet into the air when the block came down as a result of a cable on the crane snapping.

The accident took place at the Irish Fertiliser plant in Arklow, Wicklow, on May 4, 2004, when Mr Copeland, a steel fabricator, was working as a supervisor in the deconstruction of a building on the site.

The settlement was against DMMI Construction Ltd and Target Recruitment Ltd, both of Antrim Road, Glengormley, Antrim, as his employer, and against McNally's Crane Hire Ltd, owners of the crane.

All conceded liability and the case was before the High Court for assessment only. The court heard that had Mr Copeland not jumped out of the way at the last second before the block came down, he would have been killed. Mr Copeland, a married father of three, suffered serious injuries which had left him with chronic pain to this day.

He had also suffered post-traumatic stress and depression which was added to by the fact that a friend and colleague was killed on the same site later and the crane driver who had been working that day also died some time later.

It was claimed that as a result of his physical injuries, his grip is weak and his arm tires easily and he has difficulty driving carrying and lifting.

Solicitor Richard N Kean, for Mr Copeland, said there was no claim for loss of future earnings because, despite his injuries, he had obtained part-time employment from a relative since 2006 and it does not involve heavy lifting.

Mr Justice Kevin Feeney was told that the matter had been settled and the case could be struck out against the three defendant companies along with costs to Mr Copeland.