Building firm is fined after carpenter's death
PUBLISHED: 09:56 25 June 2012 | UPDATED: 16:37 25 June 2012
A FIRM has been ordered to pay £240,000 for its role in the death of a carpenter who was killed on a building site, just days after searching for an engagement ring with his partner.
Philip Hames, aged 40, died after he was hit by a concrete slab that fell on a construction site he was working on at the University of Bath.
Creagh Concrete Products Ltd, of Blackpark Road, Toomebridge, County Antrim, was found guilty of breaching health and safety regulations and fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £140,000 in costs.
Mr Hames, of Birch Road, Locking, had been a carpenter for about 15 years and moved to the South West from London.
He died on November 1, 2007, after he adjusted a metal prop without realising it was securing a concrete plank above him, at the university’s Claverton Down Campus.
He was killed instantly when it fell and the plank narrowly missed a co-worker.
The court was told the positions and type of props used in supporting the concrete were critical, however placement was largely left to the workers to decide.
Creagh was found guilty on June 15 by the Bristol Crown Court jury of failing to adhere to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Mr Hames’ partner Suzanne Stubbs, aged 36, said she was pleased the three-week trial was over and the firm had been found responsible.
She said: “It did answer quite a lot of questions that have nagged away for the past four years. We are very pleased that there’s been a prosecution and hopefully it will help change the construction industry.”
Ms Stubbs added: “We had been together for just over three years having met in Weston.
“We didn’t live together but then two weeks before the accident he said he was ready to make the next commitment and four days before he died we went looking for engagement rings.”
Ms Stubbs who has two children, 19-year-old Jonathon and 14-year-old Jade, from a different relationship, said Mr Hames was a wonderful stepfather.
She said: “We all very much miss Phil. He was such fun to be around.
“He had a very large personality. He was very happy, very generous and hard working.”
Keith Stubbs, Suzanne’s father, said Mr Hames was very safety conscious having witnessed deaths on construction sites before.
Ms Stubbs said Phil had always loved his job in the construction industry despite the accidents he had seen.
Health and safety inspector Ian Smart said Mr Hames’ death needed to be a wake-up call for the industry.
He said: “Unfortunately there has been a rise in the number of fatalities caused by the collapse of structures under construction or refurbishment over the past few years.
“Mr Hames was an experienced carpenter but Creagh failed to recognise the scope of the work he was undertaking and failed to ensure he was made aware of how critical the placements of the props were and the fact they should not be adjusted.”