Construction firm admits guilt over Glasgow site death

Morris & SpottiswoodA construction company has admitted to breaching health and safety laws after a worker was crushed to death by a steel frame at a Queens Cross Housing Association building site in Glasgow.

Daniel Hurley, 31, died after a 1.6 tonne steel frame fell on top of him at the site in Murano Street, Maryhill, on 15 October 2009.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Daniel, who lived in Knightswood, Glasgow, tried to run as the frame ripped off its securing bolts, but he failed to clear the area.

Workers managed to lift the metal from him and paramedics attended.

But the court heard sub-contractor Daniel died on the way to hospital.

During a hearing on Monday, Glasgow based company Morris and Spottiswood pleaded guilty to a breach of procedure over the bolts used to secure the frame and the holes which held them.

Procurator Fiscal depute Louise Beattie told the court: “As Mr Hurley ran he was struck by the top beam of the frame across the back of his shoulders and neck.”

M&S admitted that they failed to check that bolts for the frame were installed by someone who was trained and competent and that the holes drilled were the correct diameter.

During the incident the court heard Daniel, who was working for sub-contracted firm Advance Construction Scotland as a ground worker, had started work around 7.30am.

Half an hour later he was using a machine near to where the steel frame was being erected by others on the site.

The steel frame, 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.

But some minutes later it toppled over and fell to the ground, pulling three of the four bolts clean out of the ground and snapping the other in half.

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

But despite his attempts to escape he was crushed underneath, knocking him unconscious.

Steel erectors managed to lift the frame from him but Daniel, originally from Cork, Republic of Ireland, died a short time later.

No charges were brought against the two subcontractors involved in the project as neither is trading anymore.

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. Metal fence panels available on site were also used to create exclusion zones around any remaining steel erection works.

Sheriff Norman Ritchie QC deferred sentence until later this month.

Queens Cross Housing Association, owners of the land, appointed Morris and Spottiswood as principal contractor for the £36 million contract to build flats and houses over three sites in Maryhill, Glasgow, one of which was at the site of the accident.

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