On 14 August 2008, Peter Halligan and a colleague were constructing brick manhole covers above a 7.5m diameter water tank which had been installed to collect flood water. After he went to get a piece of equipment Mr Halligan disappeared and he was subsequently found at the bottom of the 15m empty tank having suffered fatal injuries.
The subsequent HSE investigation found that the employer, Galt Civil Engineering Limited, had given the employees insufficient information about the work and the risk assessment was inadequate. In addition, Peter Stuart, who was the director with day to day responsibility for the site, attended the day before the incident and raised no concerns about the working practices that had been adopted.
The company pleaded guilty to breach of s2(1) HSWA whilst Mr Stuart pleaded guilty to breach of s37(1) HSWA. Since Galt Civil Engineering Limited was in administration by the time sentencing took place, it was fined a nominal sum of £50 and ordered to pay costs of £24,974.
However, Mr Stuart was fined £30k with no costs. The prosecution highlights the trend for enforcement against individual directors where appropriate, even in cases where the company in question is no longer trading.