Building company in courtoverschoolsite
A CONSTRUCTION company has pleaded guilty to failing to properly fence off a site during the building of an extension at a secondary school.
Numerous children were in the vicinity of the site in the grounds of Killarney Community College, when a Health and Safety Authority inspector paid “a routine visit” at around 11am on the morning off February 25, 2016, Killarney District Court heard.
The prosecution against Evans and Kelliher Construction Ltd, of Chestnut Grove Apartments, Sprout Lane, Milltown, was brought at the suit of the DPP. There were two summonses under Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) regulations and legislation, to do with fencing to protect people against risks.
No one was injured, “but without a doubt” there was potential for injury, given that school classes were on-going, HSA inspector Michael Flynn told Tom Rice, prosecuting barrister for the State.
The school had remained open while construction was taking place. The main gate into the site from inside was “unlocked and unattended” and pupils could gain access, Mr Flynn said, handing photographs into court.
A section of the fencing had been moved such that an emergency door was blocked – and people would have been directed into the middle of the hazardous building site.
Another section of the fencing was not secured.
Scaffolding and rubble was an allurement to children, Mr Flynn agreed with Mr Rice.
“A construction site is dangerous. It is no place for ordinary people to wander and definitely no place to allow access to children,” the inspector said.
The regulations for construction placed “a clear duty on contractors” to take appropriate measures for entering a site and a project supervisor should co-ordinate all other contractors to make sure there was no unauthorised entrance, Mr Flynn added.
Eoin Brosnan , solicitor , said his client was a commercial company involved in school crèches and HSE work.
It was medium sized with net assets of over €842,000, the solicitor began, but Judge James O’Connor said there was no need to go into that aspect.
The company had no previous conviction and it remedied the situation in Killarney at once, Mr Brosnan said. A subsequent health and safety at work audit was undertaken in Tuosist NS shortly afterwards and showed an almost 100 per cent compliance rate.
“The company accepts they were wrong,” Mr Brosnan said, adding that safety was of “paramount” importance to them. It was willing to make a sizeable contribution to the court poor box to avoid a conviction, he said.
The maximum penalty was a €5,000 fine on each of the two offences, Mr Rice outlined.
Judge James O’Connor said it seemed that protective measures were taken but they had not been co-ordinated. Mr Rice agreed there was really one instance of wrongdoing.
The judge agreed to accept a voluntary sum, an offer from Mr Brosnan of €5,000 for a strike out, and adjourned matters to October 17.