Outrage At Paltry Fine For Death Of Worker

Date:

A Dublin family has expressed its outrage at the imposition of a €100,000 fine on a leading construction company for the death of a worker in 2007. 28-year-old father of two, Eddie Fowler, died on 18th January 2007 following a workplace accident on the site of the Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas.  Mr. Fowler was fatally injured when he was struck by a plank which blew off scaffolding in high winds.  An inspector from the Health and Safety Authority, Kay Baxter, told a court hearing that workers should not have been allowed onto that section of the site that day. 

The HSA inspector told the court that while the company had a safety statement in place there was no risk assessment for scaffolding being lifted in high winds.  And despite the fact that the company was aware of problems with scaffolding planks being blown off in lighter winds and severe weather warnings having been issued, workers were on site when the fatal accident occurred.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to close a section of the site, something which the judge, Judge Martin Nolan, described as “a wrong judgement call”.  Despite the fact that G & T Crampton had six previous convictions, two of which involved fatalities, under health and safety legislation the judge imposed a fine of a mere €100,000.

Outside the court Mr. Fowler’s family described the fine as an outrage.  His mother and widow said the company had “walked away”, noting that the fine amounted to two years’ pay for a construction worker and asking if that was the price of a human life.

Just how pathetic the fine was becomes clear when compared with Cramptons’ profits for the previous twelve months prior to the accident.  In the year 2006 turnover at G&T Crampton increased by 22% to €242.9million, with pre-tax profits increasing by a staggering 500% to €25.5million.  Shareholders each received dividends of €13million. 

There were 13,900 workplace injuries in the construction sector in 2007, with 18 fatalities.  

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