Firm fined €2,500 after worker dies while dismantling ceiling

A man dismantling a ceiling in a warehouse died after he sustained injuries when the platform he was working on fell to the floor.

Judge Aingil Ní Chondúin said €5,000 was the maximum fine on the charge and imposed a €2,500 fine on the man’s employer, plumbing suppliers OB Heating of Cork.

Health and Safety Authority inspector Mark Rowlands said that at the time of the accident, there had been a pallet on the forks of a forklift truck with a metal frame attached to the wooden pallet.

The late Paul McCarthy was using this as a platform to do work taking apart a ceiling in a warehouse. He was standing on the pallet and inside the steel frame.

OB Heating was getting a building contractor to install storage frames in the warehouse that required the frame for the ceiling to be taken apart to make room for it. While dismantling the ceiling, the platform pallet fell from the fork of the truck and Mr McCarthy fell 2m to the floor.

He was taken to hospital and died over a week later. The 46-year-old had been working with OB Heating from the age of 18.

“They had outside contractors for the new racks. They had not appointed a contractor for the dismantling work. The work had not been organised properly and managed safely and Mr McCarthy died. [Staff and management at] OB Heating were grievously traumatised by the event. I know it had a deep impact on them. They fully co-operated,” Mr Rowlands said.

The pallet and frame being used on the forklift as a platform had been used as a frame for storing bathtubs in an upright position.

Mr Rowlands served them with a HSA notice that they were not to use this as a platform again.

Donal O’Sullivan, barrister, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the HSA at Cork District Court, said Mr McCarthy’s twin sister, his wife who had been expecting another baby at the time of her husband’s death, and other family members were present in court for the case yesterday.

OB Heating entered a plea of guilty to the charge of failing to plan work at height in a manner that was planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

Siobhán Lankford, barrister, said on their behalf that they offered their deep apologies to the family.

Judge Ní Chondúin said, “I am sure the family are devastated and that workmates were absolutely shocked.”

Ms Lankford said two directors of the company were present and described Mr McCarthy as an exceptional employee.


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