Contractor fined after 22-year-old worker dies from head injury

A carpentry firm has been fined £8,000 after a 22-year-old died when struck by falling material at a construction site in Cambridgeshire, according to the health and safety watchdog.

Niall McCormack

Niall McCormack

KM Carpentry Contractors, based in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire, was also ordered to pay almost £7,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of health and safety laws, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said in a statement.

Niall McCormack from Kettering was working for the company installing roof trusses at a new-build site at Alconbury Weald, Cambridgeshire, in October 2019.

Truss packs and party wall spandrel panels had been lifted by crane onto a pair of semi-detached properties the day before the incident and were temporarily supported by timber restraints.

McCormack was working with another carpenter to remove trusses from the pack and spread them across the building when the wind caught a spandrel panel, pushing it against the remaining trusses.

Both the truss pack and spandrel panel fell into the work area, said the HSE. Falling material struck McCormack and he suffered a fatal head injury.

An investigation by the HSE found that KM Carpentry Contractors failed to identify the risk of wind loading, and the effect this could have on the stability of the spandrel panel prior to it being secured.

The method statement for the installation of the spandrel panels included lifting and placing them on the roof only after the roof trusses had been installed and permanently secured, the watchdog said.

This could not be followed as they had both been placed on the roof at the same time as the roof trusses the day before.

HSE inspector Jenny Morris said: “Our thoughts are with Niall’s family, a 22-year-old who was just setting out on his career in the construction industry.

“This case highlights the importance of identifying the risks associated with a work activity and ensuring a safe system of work is devised and then followed.”

A family statement said: “The whole family has been badly affected by Niall’s loss. One of his friends is going to Australia and we can’t help thinking Niall should be here and going with him.

“Niall has lost the ability to grow up and have children of his own. He won’t be getting married and all the things you do as families. He’s missed out on so much, for what, going to work. No one should go to work and not come back.”

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