Two construction companies in Northern Ireland have been prosecuted for ignoring the risks involved in the handling and delivery of steel stock.
The incident involved a lorry loaded with steel beams, parked next to a pedestrian walkway. Despite the fact that this was not a designated unloading bay and that one of the company’s directors had noticed a steel beam hanging over the side of the lorry, unloading went ahead regardless.
The pavement was not blocked off and no notices were used to warn passers-by that the lorry was in the process of being unloaded. When thirty-five year old Frenchman Hugues Makambila, a cleaner on the construction site, walked by the lorry, a steel beam weighing nearly 1.4 tonnes fell on him and he was instantly killed.
Ignoring well-known risks is irresponsible and can have tragic consequences. When accidents could have been predicted and prevented if simple and cost-effective measures had been used, it demonstrates a lack of respect for the safety and lives of others.
Employers have a responsibility to minimise any risks their employees are exposed to while at work, as well as to ensure that workers receive health and safety training and are able to evaluate the potential risks they face.