Northern Ireland

FP McCann fined £150k after quarry worker death

Victor Nicholl Image copyright Nicholl family
Image caption Victor Nicholl was working at quarry when he died in 2015.

A Londonderry quarrying and construction firm has been fined £150,000 after one of its employees died in an industrial accident.

Victor Nicholl was found fatally injured beside a dumper truck at Knockloughrim Quarry near Magherafelt in County Londonderry on 13 March 2015.

The 62-year-old had worked for the company for 19 years before his death.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, FP McCann Ltd admitted two breaches of health and safety legislation.

Mr Nicholl had been moving material from a crushing and screening plant to a stockpile area on a dumper truck at the quarry.

Dumper truck faults

The dumper truck was found stopped with the wheels lodged in build-up of material - known as edge protection - along the verge of a quarry road.

The edge protection is used to prevent vehicles driving into pits in quarries.

Mr Nicholl was found beside one of the truck's front wheels with fatal head injuries.

The dumper truck was found to have had faults, including no parking brake, no emergency steering and no working seatbelt.

The edge protection was also found to have been below the recommended height of 1.5m (4 ft 11in).

The judge said on Friday that there was "no direct link" between the health and safety breaches and the death of Mr Nicholl.

FP McCann Ltd had never previously been the issued with a health and safety improvement notice and had fully cooperated with the authorities investigating Mr Nicholl's death, he added.

'Serious aggravating feature'

"At no stage" had the firm "sought to shy away from its responsibilities" in relation to the breaches, he added.

But he said that "any defects can create a serious risk" and that FP McCann Ltd "clearly fell short on this occasion".

"The fact a death occurred... amounts to a very serious aggravating feature of this case," said the judge.

"At the centre of this case is a man whose life was tragically cut short by the terrible events of that day."

The judge imposed fines of £75,000 for each of the breaches and allowed the company three months to pay the £150,000 total.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated how Mr Nicholl died at the quarry.

Its principal inspector Anne Boylan said the vehicle had "not been maintained in a safe condition and was not fit for use in a hazardous environment".

More on this story