Company pleads guilty after worker crushed to death

Chief executive of Morris and Spottiswood, George Morris stands outside their Glasgow HQ in Govan. Picture: Robert Perry
Chief executive of Morris and Spottiswood, George Morris stands outside their Glasgow HQ in Govan. Picture: Robert Perry
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A WORKER was crushed to death on a building site when a steel frame fell on top of him, a court heard.

Glasgow based company Morris and Spottiswood (M&S) pled guilty to breaching health and safety rules after Daniel Hurley was killed by the 1.6 tonne frame.

He was working in an area of the site at Murano Street, Maryhill, building houses for Queen’s Cross Housing Association, when it crashed down on him.

The 31-year-old from Cork tried to run but it fell on him and despite medics working on him at the site and on the way to the hospital he tragically passed away on October 15, 2009.

Morris and Spottiswood, a well known company within the construction industry, pled guilty to the breach of procedure at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

They admitted that they failed to check that bolts on the ground for the frame were installed by someone who was trained and competent and that the holes drilled were the correct diameter and able to receive the bolts.

The court heard that Mr Hurley was working for a sub-contracted firm Advance Construction Scotland as a ground worker at the time of the fatal accident.

He was using a machine near to where the steel frame was being erected by others on the site.

Miss Beattie told the sheriff: “Queens Cross Housing Association, owners of the land, appointed M&S as Principal Contractor for the £36,000,000 contract to build flats and houses over three sites in Maryhill, Glasgow, one of which was at the site.”

As principal contractor Morris and Spottiswood subcontracted another firm to design, make and put up the steel work for the development.

That other company then in turn subcontracted a third company to physically put the steelwork up.

The court heard that neither are trading anymore or charges would have been brought against them also.

Miss Beattie told the court that on the morning of the fatality Mr Hurley started work around 7.30am and half an hour later was near where the steelwork area was.

One of the steel frames - that stood at around 24 and a half feet - was put in place using a crane and bolted down, and the chains released from it.

Some minutes later it toppled over and landed on the ground, on top of Mr Hurley, pulling three of the four bolts clean out of the ground and snapping the other in half.

Miss Beattie said that after the incident the machine Mr Hurley was using was positioned such that he would have been right in the middle of the steel frame as it fell towards him.

The court heard that at the time of the incident,a warning was shouted to Mr Hurley who began to run, in the same direction as the frame was falling.

Miss Beattie added: “As Mr Hurley ran he was struck by the top beam of the frame across the back of his shoulders and neck.”

He was trapped under the frame and unconscious while numerous witnesses and workers attempted to lift the frame off him.

The steel erectors then managed to lift the frame off Mr Hurley.

Paramedics arrived and performed CPR at the scene and on the way to the hospital but he could not be saved.

The court was told it is the opinion of Michael Thomson, HSE Specialist Inspector, that the “inadequate installation” of the foundation bolts was the most critical factor in the mechanism of collapse of the steel frame.

Since the incident Morris and Spottiswood - who have a good health and safety record - have replaced all bolts previously installed.

And, metal fence panels available on site were used to create exclusion zones around any remaining steel erection works.

Sheriff Norman Ritchie QC deferred sentence until later this month.