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safety breach 'He'll never be replaced' - worker's partner as firm fined €850k over death of experienced welder


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James Byrne who tragically died in Dublin Port death.

James Byrne who tragically died in Dublin Port death.

James Byrne who tragically died in Dublin Port death.

A shipping company whose breach of health and safety laws resulted in the death of an experienced welder has been fined €850,000.

James Byrne was killed instantly on June 6, 2018 when a six-metre steel column fell on him shortly after he had been using a blowtorch to separate it from a larger metal structure.

An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), which then brought charges against the Doyle Shipping Group Un-limited, with an address at Ocean Pier, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1.

The company pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to manage work activities, specifically the dismantling of a steel hopper at the McKearns Yard, at Ocean Pier, in a way to ensure the safety and health of employees, as a consequence of which Mr Byrne suffered personal injury and died.

Passing sentence yesterday, Judge Pauline Codd said the employer breached its obligation to ensure employees are not put at unnecessary hazard.

She said the absence of planning the task meant equipment was not utilised as it should have been.

Devastating

Judge Codd said the case was aggravated by there being a fatality and the devastating effect of this loss on the victim's family.

It was further worsened by the risk being "obvious" and "significant", the over-reliance on one employee effectively left to assess risks himself and the failure to ensure equipment was utilised to secure the columns.

The judge placed the offence as being in the middle of the mid-range for offending of this nature.

She said that in the absence of mitigation, the appropriate fine would be €1.5m.

Judge Codd said the mitigating factors in the case were the guilty plea, the cooperation with the investigation, the good safety record and lack of previous convictions.

There has also been "significant expenditure" to ensure this does not happen again and the remorse shown by continuing to pay the victim's salary.

The judge said the appropriate sentence in this case was a fine of €850,000.

Speaking on behalf of the deceased's family outside the Criminal Courts of Justice following the sentence being passed, Mr Byrne's partner Paula Murray said their lives would never be the same as "we feel there is a piece of us all missing".

Ms Murray said Mr Byrne was "a father, a partner, a brother, an uncle, a best friend and a mentor".

She said he had a smile that "would light up any room he went into".

"We as a family will never get over the loss of James," Ms Murray said. "He will never be replaced and he will always be in our hearts."

Ms Murray described her partner as "highly skilled" and "a very hard worker" who loved his job.

She said she hoped nothing like this ever happened to any other family.

"I would never ever want any family to go through what we have gone through," Ms Murray said.

Online Editors


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