Co Antrim firm cleared over worker’s Galgorm Manor fall

The joiner was working on a 'false floor' at the Galgorm Manor
The joiner was working on a 'false floor' at the Galgorm Manor

A Co Antrim sub-contractor is to sue for his defence costs after being cleared of a breach in health and safety rules resulting from injuries to a joiner while working at one of Northern Ireland’s top hotels.

It took a Belfast Crown Court jury under an hour to unanimously acquit Hugh Harvey, of Harvey Formworks, Glen Road in Glenariffe, of failing to plan, manage or monitor work at the Galgorm Manor Hotel site on the outskirts of Ballymena.

Afterwards defence lawyer Michael Duffy told Judge Sandra Crawford that in light of the acquittal, they would be applying for the prosecution to meet Mr Harvey’s defence costs.

Mr Duffy also applied for a new jury to formally find Mr Harvey not guilty of two other health and safety breaches which had been “left on the books” and not proceeded with.

The jury heard that Mr Harvey’s company supplied several workers, including the injured joiner, for work on an extension at the top hotel on September 1, 2014.

They and the joiner – who sustained multiple injuries in the 13-feet fall, including nine broken ribs and a fractured hand – were all being paid by Harvey Formworks.

However, 49-year-old Mr Harvey told the court that he only supplied staff to work on the Galgorm Manor site, and as such was under no obligation, nor was it his responsibility, to ensure health and safety practices were followed on site.

It also emerged that the joiner had never even met Mr Harvey, and that on the day of the incident Mr Harvey was working on another project in Londonderry.

The company that sub-contracted Harvey Formworks to work on the extension project, Raptic Limited, has already pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches and will be sentenced at a later date.

The injured joiner was working with others constructing a ‘false floor’ which would later have concrete poured over it to create a roof.

This system is known as ‘skydecking’ and it was during this stage of construction that the joiner, who was not wearing a harness, fell through a hole and landed beside a colleague on the floor below.

However, it has never been established how and why the hole appeared in the structure in the first place.