Firm face in­crease in fine af­ter death of lo­cal worker

Drogheda Independent - - NEWS -

A CON­CRETE prod­ucts man­u­fac­turer, fined for an in­ci­dent in which an em­ployee was killed while work­ing in­side a safety cage, faces a pos­si­ble in­creased fine fol­low­ing an ap­peal by prose­cu­tors.

Kil­saran Con­crete, with an ad­dress at Pierce­town, Dun­boyne Co Meath, had pleaded guilty to fail­ing to man­age and con­duct work ac­tiv­i­ties in such a way to en­sure the safety, health and wel­fare at work of em­ploy­ees at its plant in Pierce­town in Septem­ber 2011.

Barry Gar­gan (28) died while op­er­at­ing ma­chin­ery at the plant owned by the com­pany.

Kil­saran Con­crete was fined €125,000 by Judge Michael O’Shea at Trim Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court on Fe­bru­ary 18, 2016.

The Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions are seek­ing a re­view of the penalty im­posed on Kil­saran Con­crete on grounds that it was “un­duly le­nient”. The three-judge Court of Ap­peal re­served judg­ment un­til April 6.

Open­ing the DPP’s ap­pli­ca­tion, bar­ris­ter Carl Hana­hoe said the wet cast ma­chine in ques­tion was de­signed to pro­duce ‘stan­dard­ised’ curb­ing stones but a very size­able or­der for “be­spoke” con­crete slabs was re­ceived in re­spect of re­gen­er­a­tion projects in Lim­er­ick and Bal­ly­mun.

Mr Hana­hoe said it was de­cided to use the wet cast pro­duc­tion line in a “semi-au­to­mated way” to pro­duce be­spoke con­crete slabs and there was a “de­lib­er­ate over­rid­ing of safety fea­tures” as­so­ci­ated with this piece of ma­chin­ery.

It was the prose­cu­tion’s case that there was an “in­cre­men­tal at­tempt to in­crease ef­fi­ciency” and by each step the dan­ger pre­sented to em­ploy­ees in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.

Even­tu­ally, he said, em­ploy­ees were on ei­ther side of the con­veyor belt in­side the safety bar­rier or cage, the whole pur­pose of which was to keep peo­ple out.

Mr Hana­hoe said ef­fi­ciency was be­ing achieved by the sys­tem which was be­ing adopted and there was noth­ing to sep­a­rate ef­fi­ciency from fi­nan­cial profit. That was an ag­gra­vat­ing fac­tor, he sub­mit­ted.

Fur­ther­more, one em­ployee had re­ported to his bosses that he was not happy about the way the ma­chine was be­ing used. A stu­dent who was work­ing in the plant for a sum­mer, a Mr Tierney, had re­ported a “near miss”.

Mr Hana­hoe said the ac­tiv­ity oc­curred over a pro­longed pe­riod of time – ap­prox­i­mately 12 months.

Coun­sel for Kil­saran Con­crete, Hugh Hart­nett SC, said his client ac­cepted “from the very be­gin­ning” that the sys­tem in place at the time should not have been in place.

It was re­peated through­out pro­ceed­ings, Mr Hart­nett said, that what oc­curred was the fault of no­body but his client.

Mr Hart­nett said the pay­ment of monies in civil pro­ceed­ings was a fac­tor the Cir­cuit Court judge should have taken into ac­count. He said the money had been paid “very quickly”.

Mr Hart­nett said the wet cast ma­chine was a small part of the plant, it was not a core ac­tiv­ity.

Mr Jus­tice George Birm­ing­ham, who sat with Mr Jus­tice John Ed­wards and Mr Jus­tice John Hedi­gan, said the court would re­serve judg­ment.

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