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MAJOR CONTRACTOR PROSECUTED OVER DEATH

Fall of steel-fixer should have been prevented by company systems

Laing O’Rourke has been fined £135k after a 25 year-old steel fixer, Keiron Deeney, fell 10m to his death in 2004 through an inadequately protected floor opening. The death occurred on the Discovery Dock apartment and office development in east London.

The opening was covered by inadequate sized plywood secured by two nails and presented an “appalling danger” which should have been spotted.

In sentencing, Judge Richard Hone said the company must eliminate a “casual attitude to risk” that existed on sites and should be “thoroughly ashamed” of itself. He added that safety systems should have ensured the covering was safe, clearly marked and regularly inspected.

The court heard that a similar accident occurred some months earlier on a site operated by the company in Wales. The judge added it was “disappointing” that the company “zero tolerance” attitude to health and safety problems stated on paper was not working properly on site.

HSE Inspector Dominic Elliss said: “The risks of working at height and the need to manage voids in platforms are well-known and falls from height remain the most common cause of death in the construction industry. This case highlights the need for robust systems for the covering of voids together with regular effective site inspections to prevent such unacceptable loss of life.”

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