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Director jailed for 3 years after demolition death


A County Durham construction boss has been jailed and a Tyneside firm and one of its directors fined after a demolition worker fell to his death from a cherry picker that was knocked over by a falling roof beam.

 

Ken Joyce, 53, of Lanchester, County Durham, was working for Allan Turnbull, trading as A&H Site Line Boring and Machining, when the incident happened on 2 December 2008.  He was dismantling the structural steelwork of the roof at the Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.

 

During a four-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court, a jury heard how Joyce was working from one cherry picker while two colleagues were working from another cherry picker and a crane.  They were dismantling the structure and were using a crane to lower the steel beams to the ground.  While removing a beam brace connecting two plate girders, one of the plate girders struck the basket of the cherry picker in which Joyce was standing, knocking the equipment over.  Joyce fell to the ground below and suffered serious head injuries. He was pronounced dead soon after.

 

A joint investigation carried out by Northumbria Police and the HSE established that North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC) had subcontracted the dismantling work to Allan Turnbull.

 

The jury was told that NEMOC and its director Christopher William Taylor failed to ensure the safety of its employees and sub-contracted workers by neglecting to check that Turnbull had the necessary competence to carry out the work.

 

The investigation also found that Turnbull had failed to adequately plan the work after identifying a lack of suitable and sufficient lifting plans to ensure a safe system of work was in place for the dismantling of the structural steelwork.

 

Turnbull, 61, of Tow Law, County Durham, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter following the trial after pleading guilty earlier to safety breaches.  He was sentenced to three years in prison.

 

North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC), which had been operating from the Swan Hunter Yard, was fined £1 for each offence after it was found guilty of safety breaches.  The company is now in liquidation.

 

Christopher William Taylor, 51, of Newcastle, was found guilty of safety breaches and was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs.

 

After the case, which was brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, HSE Inspector Emma Scott, said: “This was a tragedy that could easily have been prevented had a safe system of work been in place”.

 

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Info Bite 113
May 2013