Friday, October 25 14:26:04
Agri-mechant business Dummonds Ltd, was today fined E125,000 plus HSA expenses of E19,600 and legal costs relating to the tragic deaths of two workers.
Company had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
On August 10th 2009 a serious incident occurred in the Drummonds Ltd facility in Knockbridge, Co. Louth, as a result of which two persons, 19 year old Terry Brennan and his colleague 34 year old Paul Farrell, lost their lives.
The two men entered an elevator pit to undertake some repair works on machinery by means of an access hatch and a vertical ladder fixed to the wall which led 3.4 meters below ground. Whilst in the elevator pit both men were overcome by a lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. Air samples taken from the elevator pit showed significantly reduced levels of oxygen (1-2pc) and extremely elevated levels of Carbon Dioxide (18-20 pc). Normal atmospheric conditions contain Oxygen levels at 20-21pc and Carbon Dioxide levels at 0.03pc. Anything below 19pc oxygen is dangerous and below 16pc is considered lethal.
The safety management system and systems of work for the Drummonds Ltd. facility in Knockbridge were found to be extremely inadequate in that the company failed to undertake an assessment of the risks to their employees' safety, health and welfare whilst at work.
As a direct result of failures by Drummonds, both Mr Terry Brennan and Mr Paul Farrell died.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority said, "The dangers of working in confined spaces are extremely serious. Harmful gases can be present and the risk of fatalities is high. There are clear measures that must be taken before any work in a confined space begins; starting with identifying hazards, implementing safe systems of work and then creating emergency and rescue procedures. This case showed that the company clearly failed to take these measures with tragic consequences".