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Lack of Safety Procedures Responsible For Construction Death

Posted in: Workplace Injuries Wrongful & Accidental Death 

A sheriff has ruled that safety failings when reversing a roller on a construction site was responsible for the death of a man following a fatal accident in the workplace in Perthshire. 

David McClorey died from blunt force trauma during a reverse operation after he became trapped between a roller and a digger. Mr McClorey had been working on a site to raise electricity pylons. 

Despite receiving CPR and paramedics arriving, Mr McClorey died at the scene.

Fatal Accident Inquiry 

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of the 31-year-old heard that the accident occurred as the workers were attempting to syphon fuel from one vehicle to another. Mr McClorey had been guiding the vehicle back toward the digger but got trapped and crashed as a result. 

The inquiry heard from the driver of the vehicle that there was a visual of Mr McClorey for the vast majority of the time when completing the maneuver with communication occurring through hand gestures. 

However, the Sheriff also heard that no mirrors were used when carrying out the reverse operation and that Mr McClorey was in a position that he should not have been in if proper safety procedures were in place. In a written statement Sheriff Gilchrist said:

“The likeliest scenario is that Mr McClorey was standing between the machines, guiding Mr Cooper’s reversal of the roller.

“He was in a position he should not have been in if the reversing manoeuvre had been carried out safely.

“To complete this manoeuvre safely, required that he would not be positioned between the two vehicles until both were stationary with their engines turned off. This clearly did not happen.

“I am satisfied that both Mr McClorey and Mr Cooper were capable of undertaking the task safely, although clearly that is not what happened.”

He ruled: “There was a defect in the system of working which contributed to the accident resulting in the death, namely that the reversing operation was not conducted in accordance with normal safe practices.”

Furthermore, the Sheriff stated that had proper safety measures been in place, and there had been a “reasonable precaution” Mr McClorey would not have lost his life. 

Construction Injuries

Although there has been a significant reduction in the number of accidents on construction sites in the UK, working in construction remains one of the most dangerous fields of employment in the UK. 

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive found that although only 5% of workers in the UK worked in construction, 31% of all workplace accidents occurred on construction sites. In 2013/14 there were 42 fatal injuries in construction. The most common type of fatal injury is falling from heights, with 45% of all deaths coming as a result of employers failing to protect employees working at height. 7% of all fatal accidents were as a result of contact with a machine.

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