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Fri April 23 2021

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Wire rope whiplash kills worker in Quinn precast plant

23 Oct 15 Quinn Building Products Ltd has been fined £100,000 for health and safety breaches that resulted in the death of an employee in 2012.

On 13th September 2012, 24-year-old Brian Óg Maguire was tensioning a steel rope in preparation for the manufacture of cement slabs at Quinn’s precast factory in Gortmullan, County Fermanagh.

During the tensioning, the 125-metre-long wire rope came unattached at one end and travelled towards Mr Maguire who was positioned in the safety cage. The rope was forced behind him and struck an object. The rope splayed and two of the strands then struck Mr Maguire, causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) found that three wedge segments that grip the steel rope were worn and damaged. The tapered barrel, in which the grips were positioned, was also worn beyond the manufacturer’s recommended limits. Ultimately this resulted in the rope gradually slipping through the grips during tensioning and being released with a force estimated to have been in the region of six tonnes.

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Omagh Crown Court heard that the company did not have suitable arrangements in place to check that the grips and barrels were suitable to use, nor did it have a proper system to manage the use and rotation of these safety critical items.

Quinn Building Products Ltd was yesterday fined £50,000 for breaching Article 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Order (NI) 1978 and £50,000 for breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (NI) 1999. It was also ordered to pay costs of just over £7,700. It had earlier pleaded guilty to both charges.

After the hearing, HSENI inspector Louis Burns said: “Whilst the steel rope behaved in a somewhat unexpected manner when it came adrift, it is clear that the company had not implemented a robust system to manage, inspect and maintain safety critical equipment in this high risk industry.”

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