Glasgow-based construction firm fined after worker killed

Morris & Spottiswood Limited – a construction firm based in Glasgow – has been found guilty of serious health and safety failings after a worker was crushed to death by a 1.6 tonne steel frame.

31-year-old Daniel Hurley was employed as a groundworker by a company sub-contracted by Morris & Spottiswood, and he was assigned work on a residential development in Maryhill, Glasgow.

Mr Hurley was operating a machine that compacted hardcore, next to a steel structure being used to erect a staircase on the site.

However, once the restraints had been released, the steel frame began to fall towards the ground after the anchor bolts meant to secure the structure failed.

One of the workers responsible for the steelwork shouted a warning to Mr Hurley, to tell him to move, but the top beam struck his shoulders and neck, knocking him to the ground and causing fatal crush injuries.

Earlier this week, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that, following an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Police Scotland, Morris & Spottiswood failed to take steps to ensure worker safety.

While two other companies – the steel fabrication company and the steel fitting company – also failed in their duty of care, both have since ceased trading.

As the principal contractor responsible for handling the project, however, Morris & Spottiswood was responsible for conducting risk assessments and evaluating method statements from its subcontractors.

Furthermore, the foundation resin anchor bolts that were installed by the company were inadequate – safety inspectors were able to move them by hand – and the strength of the fixings was the primary reason why the structure fell and crushed Mr Hurley.

Following the incident, Morris & Spottiswood Ltd contracted a specialist company to replace the anchor bolts previously installed during the project.

The company 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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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.