HSA finds no evidence of bullying after park ranger took own life in workplace

The sister of a man who made allegations of workplace bullying before taking his own life said she would like to see safety measures in place for council staff.

HSA finds no evidence of bullying after park ranger took own life in workplace

The sister of a man who made allegations of workplace bullying before taking his own life said she would like to see safety measures in place for council staff.

The phrase ‘Stand up to Bullies’ was written on the wall of a Fingal County Council depot canteen where Stephen Taylor (aged 43) took his own life on March 4, 2017.

The father-of-one worked as a park ranger at Millennium Park, Coolmine, Dublin 15.

“I would love to see a turnaround of the ‘man down’ system so that no family has to go searching for a loved one that’s unaccounted for at the end of the day.

“We had no idea where Stephen was or why he’d not returned home from work,” Lorraine Taylor said.

She has become a suicide awareness advocate working with Suicide or Survive since the tragic death of her brother.

She said:

“I couldn’t save Stephen but if I can give one person the tools to survive then that will be worth it in his memory."

“Stephen had a heart of gold. So many people have approached us and told us stories of his kindness. He loved to laugh and joke, he was mischievous. He was a perfectionist. He wanted things done right,” she said.

A resumed inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard CCTV footage at the depot was erased due to an error by Fingal County Council.

Gardaí requested CCTV footage from four cameras at the depot on March 6 2017, the day after Stephen was pronounced dead.

Gardaí received the wrong footage but by the time this mistake was realised the correct footage had been erased due to the council’s seven-day retention policy, the court heard.

Health and Safety Inspector Patricia Murray found no evidence of workplace bullying as part of her nine-month investigation.

The HSA looked at his personnel file, letters and emails and interviewed a random selection of staff.

“Where there’s evidence of disharmony, perceptions have to be backed up by evidence, but there was not that evidence,” Ms Murray said.

She found evidence that Mr Taylor had difficulties around certain systems of work, health and safety in parks and the Tetra monitoring system and had made complaints to his supervisors.

“There was evidence of ongoing upset. We had very little to put to anybody other than did they ever see any inappropriate behaviour toward Mr Taylor? They all said no,” she said.

Asked if she believed the fact lawyers for the local authority were present at these interviews had any impact, Ms Murray said no. The family asked why those Mr Taylor had named in relation to bullying were not interviewed and Ms Murray replied there was not enough evidence to proceed to that level.

The inquest heard Mr Taylor had taken sick leave on four occasions between October 2009 and December 2016 due to work-related stress.

Previously, Supervisor Ciaran Rooney said he entered the canteen on March 4, 2017, and saw the words ‘Stand up to bullies’ written in graffiti on the wall before discovering Mr Taylor’s body.

Returning a verdict of suicide, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane asked John Quinlivan, Director of Corporate Affairs at Fingal County Council, if any changes had been implemented since Mr Taylor’s death.

Mr Quinlivan replied that staff found the ‘man down’ system introduced as a safety measure for rangers had interfered with their ability to conduct their duties and they had voted not to use it.

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