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Irish Ferries fined €125,000 after crane worker was crushed to death

CourtsBy Aoife Nic Ardghail
Pain: The wife of Stephen Bayfield leaving court today
Pain: The wife of Stephen Bayfield leaving court today

Irish Ferries has been fined €125,000 for failing to have designated pedestrian walkways at a Dublin Port cargo area where a crane driver was crushed to death, a court has heard.

Stephen Bayfield (47), who worked for an outsourced company, died over three years ago when he was struck by the tyre of a crane he was due to operate as he returned from a lunch break.

Company representative Paul Sullivan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on behalf of Irish Ferries Ltd, of B & I Ferryport, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1, that it failed to provide designated walkways in the cargo handling area on October 28, 2011. The company has no previous convictions.

Padraic McMahon, a Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspector, revealed that Irish Ferries has since fulfilled requirements for designated walkways.

He told Fionnuala O'Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that he was called to the scene at Dublin Port where a rubber tyre from a 90 meter tall crane had crushed Mr Bayfield.

He said Mr Bayfield worked for Scruttons Northern Ireland Ltd, which had been outsourced by Irish Ferries and was responsible for day-to-day management of the site and its employees.

Mr McMahon said the deceased man, who had 15 years experience, walked onto a thoroughfare through a gap between containers when the crane struck him.

The inspector said the crane had made engine and beeping noises as it moved.

He said a marine engineer who investigated the site reported it had no designated walkways at the time of the accident, but that it had since complied with good workplace transport safety practice.

He agreed with Shane Murphy SC, defending, that the crane had moved at about 5mph and had “working klaxons and flashing lights.”

The deceased's wife, Julie Bayfield, revealed her “world fell apart” the day of the accident.

She described the pain of not being able to see her husband's body and having to identify him from his watch and phone.

“The hardest thing is that I never got to say goodbye...If I could have only seen a part of Stephen, it would have helped,” Ms Bayfield said.

“They say time is a great healer, but when a heart is broken it never heals.”

She added that she was still in love with her husband and paid tribute to him as an “intelligent, kind, funny and gentle guy” who was a safety conscious person.

Mr Murphy submitted to Judge Martin Nolan that the outsourced company had responsibility over day-to-day management on the site.

Judge Nolan extended his condolences to the Bayfield family, but said the only sentence option open to him was a fine.

He took into account that Irish Ferries had pleaded guilty, fully co-operated and apologised to the deceased's family.

The judge gave the company two months to pay the fine.