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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Cumbrian crush death firm safety boss was overstretched

The safety boss of a Workington company where a worker was crushed to death was overstretched in his job, an inquest heard.

Martin McGlasson photo
Martin McGlasson

Related: Workmates tried to save man crushed by concrete staircase

David Lyall, group director of health and safety for Thomas Armstrong Holdings Ltd, told jurors at the inquest into the death of Martin McGlasson that he was the only person in the health and safety department.

His role involved overseeing about 20 permanent workplaces with 600 to 800 staff in total, along with about 20 construction sites.

He told the hearing he did not feel on top of everything happening at every site.

Mr Lyall was responsible for compiling risk assessments.

Mr McGlasson, 37, of Alexandra Close, Workington, was carrying out finishing work on a staircase which was laying on its side at ACP Concrete Ltd, a subsidiary of Thomas Armstrong Holdings, when it fell onto him on September 2, 2011.

The inquest heard that Mr Lyall’s risk assessments stated that staircases were supported by an overhead crane during such work, despite this not being the practice at the site.

Mr Lyall told jurors he believed the work was done in the way he set out on the document and, had he been told otherwise, the information would have been amended.

He did not feel the practice followed by Mr McGlasson and colleagues, which had been used for many years without incident, was unsafe.

Mr Lyall said he tended to concentrate on high-risk operations and did not visit ACP’s Workington staircase department regularly.

He added: “It was an old, established department with well-trained and experienced operatives, no history of problems, accidents or issues, and nothing to put me on alert that I needed to have a closer look at it.”

He said risk assessments were based on his observations and discussions with staff working on site but he did not recall seeing anyone carrying out the finishing process.

The inquest heard that, since Mr McGlasson’s death, staircases were secured in racks when being worked on on their sides.

The hearing is expected to conclude today.

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