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Morris & Spottiswood fined £200k after groundworker crushed to death

25 Jun 15 Glasgow construction firm Morris & Spottiswood has been found culpable for the death of a worker who was crushed by a 1.6-tonne frame that fell on him during construction of a steel stair tower.

Daniel Hurley, then aged 31 years, was employed as a groundworker by a Morris & Spottiswood subcontractor on a major development of flats and houses in Maryhill, Glasgow.

Poor quality foundation resin anchor bolts were found to be the root cause.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard yesterday (24th June) that Mr Hurley had been operating a Wacker-type plate machine to compact hardcore next to an area where the structural steelwork for a stair tower was being erected on the site in Murano Street.

But after the steel frame had been lowered into position and the lifting chains released, it then began to tilt and fall towards Mr Hurley, pulling three anchor bolts clear out of the ground, while the fourth was snapped in half.

One of the steel erectors shouted a warning and Mr Hurley began to run, but he was struck by the top beam of the frame across his shoulders and neck forcing him down onto the ground and causing fatal crush injuries.

The incident, on 15th October 2009, was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Police Scotland, which found serious safety failings in the way Morris & Spottiswood, as principal contractor, had managed the project.

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The court was told that the steel fabrication company subcontracted to design the steelwork and a second company commissioned to erect it were also both found to be at fault but had since ceased trading.

The investigation found that remaining foundation resin anchor bolts installed by Morris & Spottiswood were so poorly installed that they could be moved by hand and one was so loose that it was pulled out of the concrete foundation by the investigating inspector. The failure to check the bolts capacity by the sub-contractors combined with the chosen method of erection had contributed to the cause of the fatal collapse.

Morris & Spottiswood had failed to review the risk assessments and method statements submitted by the steelwork subcontractor for the task and had failed to establish and maintain an exclusion zone around the steelwork while erection was being carried out.

Following the incident, Morris & Spottiswood contracted a specialist company to replace all of the anchor bolts that it had previously installed for this phase of the project. Metal fence panels available on site were also used to create exclusion zones around any remaining steel erection works.

Morris & Spottiswood Ltd, of Helen Street, Glasgow, was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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