Tragic death due to construction safety lapse


In a tragic accident, highlighted in a court case in recent days, a worker was killed when his machine fell into an unprotected factory pit, whilst he was involved in fitting wall and ceiling insulation in a project at the plant concerned.

The late Martin McMenemy, 52, fromGrimsby, worked for local firm O. Turner Insulation Ltd to help construct a food processing plant in Ratby Lane, Leicester. The incident happened on 12th April 2008.

Mr McMenemy was using an extendable scissor lift to install the wall and ceiling panels of the factory when he unwittingly drove the mobile platform into a shallow uncovered recess in the floor. The unit overturned, throwing him out. As a result, he subsequently died in hospital from the injuries to his head.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors investigated after the event and concluded that his employer O. Turner Insulation Ltd as well as the principal contractor, Clegg Food Projects Ltd ofNottingham, did not take the simple and necessary precautions to cover the hole.

On 24 August 2012, Leicester Crown Court was told that the tragedy could have been averted if the hole had been cordoned off or covered over with a metal plate.

At the trial, O. Turner Insulation Ltd, of Estate Road No 4, South Humberside Industrial Estate,Grimsby, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 13(2) and 37(6) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The fine awarded against them was £22,500 and additionally they had to pay £12,806 in prosecution costs.

The lead contractor Clegg Food Projects Ltd of High Pavement,Nottingham, admitted that they breached Regulations 22(1)(a) and 37(6) of the same Regulations and were fined £22,500 plus £12,674 in costs.

Preventable Risk

HSE Inspector Stephen Farthing commented on the case, as always happens these days via their PR department. His comments were:

This was an entirely preventable tragedy. A family has been left without a father because simple precautions were not taken to eliminate what was an obvious hazard. Both companies had a duty to plan, manage and monitor the work being carried out under their control, but failed in that duty.

Mr McMenemy’s two sons are Ashley and Simon. Ashley worked with him as a thermal insulation engineer for several years, including a spell at Mr McMenemy’s own company and then later at O. Turner Insulation Ltd. He changed career after the accident.

He explained:

I lost interest in working as a thermal insulation engineer following the incident. The work wasn’t the same and I simply didn’t enjoy it any more. I miss Dad and I am upset that if I ever have any children he will not get to see them. I often think of him, and all the things we haven’t yet done. I miss getting to know him better.

In terms of the fall into the pit, the relevant regulation states as follows. ‘Suitable and sufficient measures shall be taken so as to prevent any vehicle from falling into any excavation or pit, or into water, or overrunning the edge of any embankment or earthwork.’

The case is pretty clear cut but it could have easily been avoided. The presence of a case-hardened safety consultant would have been a major factor working towards the avoidance of such risks. If you want to reduce your reputational risk, and even ensure the continuance of your construction business, call McCormack Benson Health & Safety to act as your safety consultants and to be your CDM Co-ordinator.