Northern Ireland building firm fined £15k over father-of-two’s death at excavation site

19 June 2019

A Belfast building firm has been fined £15,000 over the death of a man at an excavation site in Rathfriland.

Amalgamated Environmental Services (AES) Ltd trading as AES Marconi pleaded guilty to one breach of health and safety legislation at Newry Crown Court, after Denis Paul Rodgers was found dead within an excavation site at the rear of his house.

The site was being restored following contamination with oil. An investigation found a risk assessment was not done at the site. An incomplete generic form was found to have been completed without a site visit and security arrangements were not suitable to prevent access.

Mr Rodgers (43) was found by a neighbour at his home in March 2016. At the time he was reported he lay dead outside the house he had been renting for two days after hitting his head from fall down a hole.

He had been out to get some oil for heating at the local petrol station and he had been trying to get it into his tank before slipping and falling bitting concrete.

Two days after the incident when people called to his home they found the door open and the television on.

His younger brother Darren described the plasterer as “a real outgoing fella who loved life” and that everyone knew.

He said he “deeply loved” his children who had been hit hard by the tragedy.

Dennis was separated from his wife, Sharon, and together the couple had a son, Patrick who was six at the time and eight-year-old daughter, Rebecca.

An investigation by Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) found the construction work was not appropriately planned.

An incomplete generic risk assessment had been conducted without visiting the site, security arrangements were not suitable to prevent access to the area, arrangements to assist tenants with necessary access to the area were not clear, and the risks associated with the work were not effectively communicated.

HSENI Inspector Jonathan Knox said: “Our thoughts are with the Rodgers family today. Denis’s tragic death could have been avoided if access to the construction area to the rear of the property at Downpatrick Street, Rathfriland had been carefully assessed and effective controls put in place.

“Careful consideration of the risks is vital to ensure that practical, and often simple measures are put in place to prevent such incidents from occurring.

“All contractors are reminded of the importance of the planning stage in any project. In particular, consideration should be given to the risks to those who are not working on the site, but still may be affected. Control measures must be reviewed as the work progresses.

“In the carrying out of its statutory duty, HSENI will continue to work with the Public Prosecution Service in the pursuance of successful criminal prosecutions of those who fail to ensure the safety of their employees or the public affected by their actions.”

In a statement a spokesman for the company said: “AES Marconi deeply regrets that a man died while our company was carrying out works at his home. 

“As part of the works a 1.2m hole was dug to remove contaminated soil from the rear of the property.  Although a number of measures were taken to prevent access and residents were advised of the dangers, we have undertaken a rigorous review of all health and safety procedures following this accident.  

“Measures have been put in place to ensure this does not happen again, and the company is committed to delivering the highest standards of workmanship, customer care and health and safe.”

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