news release



no embargo - 24 September 2007( Back to news releases)

‘Construction companies killing a worker by gross negligence is manslaughter at the very least’ says FACK

Today two men from Manchester were found guilty of health and safety offences in court in Stafford for their gross negligence in killing Alex Hayden, also from Manchester, when his dumper truck fell over a ridge at a construction site in Stoke on Trent.

Site foreman Colin Nolan was found not guilty of a manslaughter charge but guilty, along with Darren Atkins, a director of A&A Building Services which had the site contract, of breaching health and safety law by failing to ensure the safety at work of employees. The company was fined £61,000 and costs, Atkins fined £15,000 and Nolan £6,000.

Hilda Palmer a spokesperson for FACK (1) said:

“We send our sympathy to the family of Alex Hayden and would like to offer them our support. FACK members who have experienced the death of a son, a father or a husband on a building site, are angry that too many employers in construction continue to put workers lives at risk, confirmed by the latest HSE construction blitz in the North West which closed 38 sites out of 154!

The case of Alex Hayden’s’ totally avoidable death highlights the failure of construction employers to take their legal responsibilities seriously which puts so many workers and other people are at risk. In the North West 12 workers were killed in construction last year, there have been two major crane collapses, and construction firms are clearly failing to comply with their legal duties to protect workers’ safety. The prosecutor said of Nolan and Atkins that they “failed to take even the most simple and obvious safety measures regarding the dumping of rubble on the site. They did nothing to ensure there was a safe system of work for tipping rubble and worse," and “the accident was foreseeable and his death should not have happened”.

FACK feels that employers who flout the law so blatantly should be convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison as it is a serious crime to take a life by gross negligence, and a mere fine is not enough. It will not deter other criminal employers and the penalty does not fit the crime.”

On Thursday last week, the Health and Safety Executive held a free safety awareness day for small and medium construction companies at Haydock Park.

“FACK welcomes free advice and help to construction bosses to comply with the law and protect workers but urges the HSE to get tough with employers who behave like criminals and endanger their own workers and anyone else nearby. What will it take to make all employers realise that health and safety is not something they can do if they feel like it, is not an add on but an absolute legal duty? It used to be socially acceptable to drink and drive: no more. It is not socially acceptable for employers to kill people. We want criminal construction employers to be caught BEFORE they kill someone.”

On Monday 17th September FACK members attended a Construction Forum in London called by DWP Sec of State Peter Hain who said that the rise in deaths was ’not acceptable’ (2) and he also suggested that union health and safety reps be appointed at every building site.

“FACK urges all building workers to join a trade union and for families of those killed at work to contact us so we can work together to stop deaths on building sites and in all workplaces.” Hilda Palmer added

ENDS for more information contact Hilda Palmer on 0161 636 7557

1. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) a group of families of people who have been killed at work or by work activities -

2. Construction killed 28% more people in 2005/06 than the previous year.

According to the HSE small contractors, sole traders and the self-employed make up 83% of the industry and 75% of those killed or injured on building sites work for companies employing less than 15 people.

Fack members to contact:

· Linzi Herbertson : Mobile 07964410963- husband Andrew killed when he fell from scaffold platform in Oldham in January 1998.

· Linda Whelan: Mobile 07919334793 - son Craig a steeplejack was killed when demolishing a chimney at Metal Box in Bolton 23rd May 2002, alongside colleague Paul Wakefield.

· Dawn and Paul Adams Mobiles 07947-252021, 07889 168350 - son Samuel was only 6 years old when he was killed by unsecured railing at the newly opened Trafford Shopping Centre in Manchester in October 1998.

· Bernard and Barbara Burke Mobile: 07887917764 son Steven, 17 trainee scaffolder killed in a fall from scaffolding on 30th January 2004

FACK was launched in July 2006 with the support of the Hazards Campaign to bring together families of those killed by work and give them one larger voice.

We have spoken at many public meetings and conferences, launched FACK at the STUC in Scotland, and participated in International Workers Memorial Day 28th April events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Manchester and Oldham. .FACK leaflet and information available on website