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Boss fined £30k for employee's fatal fall

9 Apr 13 A building firm and one of its directors have been sentenced after an employee fell 15 metres to his death into an empty stormwater tank in Macclesfield.

The manhole into which Peter Halligan fell
The manhole into which Peter Halligan fell

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Galt Civil Engineering Ltd and Peter Stuart following an investigation into the death of Peter Halligan at Sutton Hall Farm on 14 August 2008.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday (8 April 2013) that the 45-year-old from Liverpool and a colleague had started work at the farm in Lyme Green three days earlier. They had been constructing brick manhole chambers above the 7.5m-diameter tank.

An HSE investigation found they had not been given sufficient information or a risk assessment for the job, and were not given any advice about working above the storage tank by their employer.

Peter Stuart, 54, who was the director with day-to-day responsibility for running the company, visited the site the day before the incident and saw both men working over the exposed openings in the tank. However, he took no action to put safety measures in place.

On the day of the incident, Mr Halligan’s colleague had gone to collect a saw. When he turned back, Mr Halligan had gone. His body was found at the bottom of the storage tank.

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Galt Civil Engineering Ltd, which is in administration, and Peter Stuart pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers.

Galt Civil Engineering Ltd, of Manchester Road in Wilmslow, received a nominal fine of £50 and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £24,974. Peter Stuart, of Delph Lane in Chorley, was fined £30,000 with no costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Jones said: "Peter Halligan sadly lost his life because his employer didn’t give any thought to his safety as he worked above a 15m-deep tank.

"There were several ways the work could have been carried out safely, such as using a harness, installing a guardrail around the opening, or providing temporary covers. However, Galt Civil Engineering and Peter Stuart chose none of these.

"This case shows how health and safety when working at height doesn’t just affect work being carried out at the top of buildings. The risks are just as great at lower levels if there’s the potential for someone to fall a distance likely to cause serious injury."

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