news release



no embargo - 8 February 2008( Back to news releases)

Moment of truth for companies involved in the death of Steven Burke, trainee scaffolder:

Sentences handed down today at 2.15pm by Judge Foster:

3 D Scaffolding – fined £60,000 and £20,000 costs to be paid over 18 month (later extended to 2 years)

David Swindells junior - fined £7,500 and £15,000 costs to be paid over 18 months ( later extended to 2 years)

RAM Services- fined £75,000 and £20,000 costs to be paid in 28 days

Mowlem PLC fined £75,000 and £70,000 costs to be paid in 28 days.

Steven’s family were unhappy with the fines and also that a Immediate Prohibition Notice served on 3D Scaffolding on 29th November 2005, for a very similar breach to the one that led to Steven’s death was not mentioned by the judge who said that 3 D Scaffolding had worked hard and had a ’good safety record’ in the 4 years after Steven’s death.

FACK spokesperson Hilda Palmer said:

“ No amount of money would bring Steven back or hurt the defendants whose actions and inactions led to his death, but the family feel fines should be much greater to bring home the full seriousness of what they have doe. We feel fines alone are an insufficient penalty for taking a life..”

For more information contact Hilda Palmer Tel: 0161 636 7557

Barbara and Bernard Burke 07760 282375 and 07887917764

Bill Noseworthy (Steven’s uncle) 07767 328430

David Swindells junior, the visiting site supervisor for 3D Scaffolding Ltd (Steven Burke's employer,) was found guilty of under Section 7(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 23rd November 2007. The other defendants who pleaded guilty are Mowlem PLC - the principal contractor on the project- faced one charge under section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974; 3D Scaffolding Ltd, faced charges under Section 2 of the HASAWA 1974, and RAM Services Ltd faced charges under Section 3 of the HASAWA 1974.


Steven Burke, a 17 year old trainee scaffolder from Levenshulme, Manchester, was working for 3D Scaffold on the 30th January 2004 when he fell 10 to 16 metres from scaffolding inside an empty sewage digester tank being refurbished at the Davyhulme Waste Water Treatment Plant. He sustained serious head and abdominal injuries from which he later died in Wythenshawe hospital. The HSE Inspector Mr Nicholas Rigby, gave evidence at Steven’s inquest on the substandard methods of scaffold construction, lack of safety measures, inadequate supervision and emergency procedures. This led to Steven being engaged in an unnecessary and unsafe procedure during which he fell.

On the day of the incident, Steven was in a four man team completing the construction of birdcage scaffolding inside an empty 20 metre high digester tank so that work on the underside of the domed roof could be carried out by another company RAM Services Ltd. This involved entering though manholes and working in confined spaces. The main contractor was Mowlem PLC, Steven’s employer was 3D scaffolding and RAM Services Ltd. were also involved.

Steven’s parents, Barbara and Bernard, and family have been devastated by his death but want his story to be heard as “He was far too young to die and we want employers to act now to prevent other young people being killed at work by their negligence” Said Barbara Burke

FACK, Families Against Corporate Killers, support the Burke family’s fight for justice and also for deterrent penalties to make other construction employers think twice before they take risks with workers lives: FACK Spokesperson Hilda Palmer said: “Steven was two young to die but like other young workers was especially at risk (2). Killing young workers through lack of supervision or other negligence is totally and utterly unacceptable and we need employers to act now to stop these totally preventable deaths, and courts to hand out penalties that make them do so. Deaths in construction for 2005/06 are up 28% on the year before, the majority of these deaths are not accidents but due to employers failing to manage health and safety and/or flouting the law. Workers will only be safe on sites when employers comply with the law, co-operate with workers and trade unions; and when the HSE enforces the law strictly coupled with courts punishing criminal employers when they don't comply."


1. FACK was launched in July 2006 with the support of the Hazards Campaign. We have spoken at many public meetings and conferences, including the CBI; launched FACK at the STUC in Scotland; spoken at International Workers Memorial Day events on 28th April in Edinburgh, Glasgow, York, Manchester and Oldham. FACK leaflet and information available on website Tel 0161 636 7557


In Britain, a worker aged between 16 and 24 years old suffers a reported workplace injury requiring more than 3 days off work every 12 minutes of every working day. A young worker is seriously injured at work every 40 minutes. Workplace fatalities in the 16-24 age range occur at a rate of more than one a month.