Inadequate site safety measures led to the death of a 10-year-old boy

A civil engineering contractor in Scotland has been fined £800,000 after a 10-year-old boy died following a series of inadequate site safety measures

Shea Ryan died after falling down a manhole at a building site with poor safety measures in Glasgow in July 2020. Ryan was out playing with friends when they accessed the construction site where the accident happened. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services and local residents, Ryan died from his injuries.

Construction sites pose a significant risk to children

The number of children who are killed or injured on construction sites has decreased in recent years; however, two or three children die each year after gaining access to building sites, and many more are injured.

The law states that you must conduct your business without putting members of the public at risk. Project clients are required to provide information on boundaries, adjacent land usage, and access and measures to exclude unauthorised persons from entering the site.

Construction companies must adequately secure their sites when finishing work for the day, excavations and pits must be covered, and any access to excavations and pits must be removed.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Police Scotland. The investigation found that the company had failed to provide sufficient site safety measures to prevent children from gaining access.

The site was part of a Glasgow City Council surface water management project near Glenkirk Drive in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow.

Unauthorised persons were able to gain access due to poor site safety measures

The HSE report revealed that R.J. McLeod (Contractors) Limited, the company in charge of the site, did not conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for unauthorised persons accessing the site. R.J. McLeod did not adequately inspect and maintain suitable perimeter fencing or install other suitable security measures.

R.J. McLeod (Contractors) Limited, of London Road, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60,000 at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 14 April 2023.

“Shea should never have been able to get onto and play on that site. The security measures should have taken account of the adjacent children’s play park and the likelihood of children trying to gain access,” said HSE principal inspector Graeme McMinn.

“The company should have had robust measures in place to maintain the fence line that was regularly being damaged and consider what additional security measures were needed to deter and prevent unauthorised access,” continued McGinn.

“The construction industry should be aware that some children can be drawn to construction sites as exciting places to play. It must do everything it can to keep them out of construction sites and away from danger to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again,” he concluded.


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