Workplace death – Parents’ fight for justice

A recent Coroner’s Inquest into the circumstances leading to the death of 24 year old Stephen O’Brien from Drogheda in October 2007 when a boiler exploded at the Haribo confectionary factory in Finglas (since closed) might lead to prosecutions for criminal negligence.

A recent Coroner’s Inquest into the circumstances leading to the death of 24 year old Stephen O’Brien from Drogheda in October 2007 when a boiler exploded at the Haribo confectionary factory in Finglas (since closed) might lead to prosecutions for criminal negligence.

However the fact that this case is on-going for three years and that prosecutions may result is thanks to the determination of Stephen’s parents, Sean and Ann-Marie, who were not satisfied with the original Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigation which originally sought to paint this incident as a pure accident and not to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecution.

The HSA’s report into the incident did not factor in events that led to the boiler explosion. A breakdown occurred on the production line the day previous to Stephen’s death. A company was brought in to investigate the fault, KB Combustions Ltd. They identified the problem and the part that was required to repair it. It was arranged that it would be fitted the following day by the contractor

In order to keep production going, a senior member of staff, who nonetheless did not have the technical qualifications to understand the workings of the boiler and the risks involved, was shown how to bypass safety control circuits in order to keep production going until the arrival of the spare part.

He in turn showed Stephen, who was only eight days in the job, how to perform the bypass of the safety control circuits. The upshot of this the following morning was an explosion that killed Stephen instantly and severely injured a colleague.

The independent initiative and enquiries of Stephen’s parents and the fact that his father Sean is himself an experienced maintenance supervisor ensured that the Coroner’s Inquest obtained a fuller picture of the circumstances around the bypassing of safety control circuits than the evidence provided by the HSA which ignored this vital piece of context. It appears that the decisions made by Haribo management and KB Combustions Ltd. on 3 October 2007 created hazards that lead directly to the accident. The Coroner’s verdict of “death by misadventure” as opposed to “death by accident” means that responsibility can be apportioned to the company.

The HSA are awaiting a copy of the Coroner’s report before deciding their next move. The evidence dug up by Stephen’s parents was not challenged by the company.  Stephen’s parents are supported by Drogheda Trades Council, local Socialist Party Councillor Frank Gallagher and Joe Higgins MEP who all call on the HSA to refer this case to the Director of Public Prosecution and for those responsible to be then held to account for Stephen’s death.

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

Survey reveals dramatic changes in social attitudes

Next Article

British Labour Party Leadership Election: How Red is Ed?

Related Posts

United action can stop the cuts at Dublin Bus

By Matt Waine

A PLANNED strike by Dublin Bus drivers and staff was postponed after an eleventh-hour intervention by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). The strike threat came after the company announced its intention to sack 290 staff, including 160 drivers as part of a “cost cutting” plan.

As we go to press, talks are still continuing at the LRC. However, it now appears that the company is using the threat of redundancies and cuts to the service as a cover for their real agenda - to force through major changes to work practices. A key component of this would be the introduction of part-time work and talks are presently deadlocked on this issue. 

Read More

Paul strike – respect the pickets!

Workers employed by Paul Construction started picketing four of their sites on 2 December. Over thirty workers had previously sat in on the St Vincents’ Hospital site on the previous Monday. They agreed to give up their sit in when the company began talks with the workers’ union SIPTU.

Read More

CPSU: Build alliance to halt Croke Park

At a CPSU consultative conference in July, delegate after delegate raised their continued opposition to the Croke Park deal. There was also major criticism of the role played by Blair Horan, CPSU General Secretary and the assertions in the media that the CPSU now supported the Croke Park deal.

Read More

No support for the implementation of Croke Park

The passing of the Croke Park Agreement represents an important setback for public sector workers and the working class as a whole. If this deal is implemented unhindered then 20,000 public sector jobs will be lost, working conditions will be decimated and the quality of public services from health to education etc will be driven further into the ground.