£12,000 fine after roof fall

editorial image

A Castle Douglas firm who admitted breaching health and safety regulations after an accident at a Stranraer farm were fined £12,000 by a sheriff at Stranraer Court on Wednesday.

McKeown Groundworks Ltd, based at King Street, pled guilty to failing to ensure the safety of their employee, Samuel Wallace, who suffered severe injuries after falling through a roof at Whiteleys Farm on May 24, 2016.

Representing the company in court, defence agent Vicky Watt said McKeown Groundworks were “unequivocal in their acceptance of its failure” in this case and had pled guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Ms Watt said the firm admitted failing to ensure the work at height was planned, carried out and supervised safely.

Initially the work undertaken at the farm had no work at height envisaged, but storm damage to a building meant the firm was asked to replace a small section of roof. The week before the accident, a company representative had looked at the roof, but just from ground level, and there was a genuine belief that the work would be of a short duration.

Mrs Watt told the court that the breach was not deliberate or calculated and was an ‘isolated incident’.

She pointed out that McKeown Groundworks Ltd had no previous issues with Health and Safety and in the aftermath of the accident had appointed an independent health and safety executive at a cost of £70,000.

Sentencing, Sheriff Kenneth Robb said that he acknowledged the company’s failure here but, in mitigation, the company owner had since taken responsible action. But he also recognised that Mr Wallace had suffered serious injury.

He accepted this was a “one-off” incident, adding that these type of incidents were often “agriculture-related”.

He said McKeown Groundworks had learned a serious lesson by not taking time to assess the dangers.