An American-owned Co Tyrone-based machine quarrying company has been fined a total of £150,000 for breaches in health and safety arising out of the death of one employee and the injuring of another nearly three years ago.
Terex GB Ltd, with a £300 million turnover in the past two years, had been charged with the corporate manslaughter of 51-year-old father of two Stevie McTeague at their ‘stock yard’ on the Cookstown Road, Killyclogher outside Omagh in July 2016.
However, the charge was allowed to ‘remain on the books’ after director Paul McDonnell, admitted, on behalf of Terex, charges including failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees; failing to ensure others were not exposed to risk, and failing to make suitable and sufficient risk assessments.
Mr McTeague, of Cairn Road, Loughmacrory, died in the the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, on July 17, three days after getting trapped under a concrete jaw crusher machine which overturned on its tracks. A security guard who tried to save Mr McTeague also ended up injured with a puncture wound to his arm.
Mr McTeague’s wife Helen, speaking outside Dungannon Crown Court afterwards, said: “Whilst we acknowledge the fine imposed on Terex today, it was Stevie and us, his family, who paid the ultimate price.
“We were, and still are, devasted by what happened. I lost my husband, my best friend. Conor and Ryan lost their dad,” added Mrs McTeague, who said the family hoped that the judgment “acts as a warning to other employers that their negligence will have consequences for them, and hope no other family has to endure the grief and pain we experience every day”.
Earlier they had listened as Judge Stephen Fowler QC recognised that grief, saying it was important and vital from the outset to recognise they had lost a “well-loved husband, father, and brother”.
And he added: “There is nothing this court can do, or that this court can say, that will take away the loss and pain and nothing in my sentencing remarks will alleviate the pain they will continue to suffer in the future.”
However, Judge Fowler said while in his view the company took a responsible attitude to health and safety, unfortunately and tragically in this case Terex “did not come up to their usual high standards”.
A previous hearing was told the accident occurred as Mr McTeague, an “experienced forklift driver and experienced driver of other machines” was moving a red JL70 concrete jaw crusher due for collection.
He was moving the near 50-tonne track-mounted crusher into a parking space by way of a remote control pendant attached to a control box, when he was “tragically crushed between the JL70 and the other tracked machines”.
Defence QC Frank O’Donoghue, apologising for the company, said “from the outset that no matter what I say ... the company does not lose sight of the dreadful events of that day”.
However, he added “the evidence simply was not there to support a charge of corporate manslaughter”, though he conceded the company “does accept that on this occasion it could have done more”, and “it is not ignorant of its safety obligations to its staff”.