Firm fined £800,000 after boy, 10, fell down building site manhole to his death

Posted: 21st April 2023

A schoolboy fell through a manhole cover to his death after a contractor failed to carry out safety checks.

Shea Ryan, plummeted more than six metres down the hole close to a play park near his home in Glasgow, Scotland, on July 16, 2020.

He and some friends had been playing when they wriggled through some insecure fencing to get inside a construction site at Glenkirk Drive, Drumchapel.

Finding an open manhole cover, Shea told his friends he ‘wanted to go down’ it, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard.

Prosecutor Saud Ul-Hassan said: ‘Shea began to climb down the ladder where he slipped and fell.

‘From the position of the ladder, he fell to the water below.’

Falling 6.3 metres down, Shea’s friends rushed to tell the youngster’s stepfather, Graham Patterson, who stepped inside in a bid to save him.

Police found Shea lying on his back with Graham and a neighbour beside him inside the hole.

The boy had drowned and suffered severe head injuries. He died shortly after at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited, one of Scotland’s largest building contractors, was today fined £800,000 for safety failures that led to Shea’s death.

The firm, which had previously pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws, was also ordered to pay a £60,000 surcharge.

Investigators from Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government workplace welfare agency, found the contractor hadn’t taken the steps to stop children from gaining access to the construction site.

A fatal accident inquiry will now be held into the boy’s death, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPSF), Scotland’s public protection service, said.

Debbie Carroll, COPFS’s health and safety investigations lead, said: ‘The untimely death of child is particularly tragic, and our thoughts are with Shea’s family as they continue to deal with the pain they have suffered following his death.

‘His death could have been prevented had RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited put in place suitable and sufficient measures to manage the risk of children accessing the site.’

HSE principal inspector Graeme McMinn added: ‘Shea should never have been able to get on to and play on that site.

‘The security measures should have taken account of the adjacent children’s playpark and the likelihood of children trying to gain access.’

For Shea’s mother, Joanne Ferguson, the firm pleading guilty gave her some form of relief. But it will only go so far.

‘My son is not here and that destroys me every day,’ she said.

Source: Metro

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