An employee of Drogheda firm Premier Periclase suffered fatal crush injuries, while working to clear blockages from a 30 metre high vessel on-site, Dundalk Circuit Court heard last week.
The prosecution arose from a Health and Safety Authority investigation launched following the death of Patrick 'Paddy' Lambe of Dawson’s Demesne, Ardee on October 30th 2014.
Judge Michael O’Shea fined the company – based at Boyne Road, Drogheda €100,000 for failing to provide a system of work in relation to the cleaning process.
The court heard last Thursday the 46 year old was a production section charge hand, in charge of a three man crew who were using chisel bars through portholes, to break up limestone blockages from a pre-heater.
A HSA inspector explained that two of the crew remained outside it on ground level, and Mr. Lambe wedged a four foot board on top of a 9 or 10 foot ladder and a cooling fin, which he used to stand on.
Judge O’Shea was told the deceased had called down to his colleagues asking them to move back as he was striking at a stubborn blockage two feet from his face. A loud noise was heard, there was a large cloud of dust and debris fell back towards Paddy Lambe "rather than away from him".
The court heard he suffered crush injuries and died very quickly.
A HSA inspector said there was no specific risk assessment or method statement in place for the procedure that was carried out, although there were many risk assessments in place for other systems of work in the plant.
The inspector agreed with the Defence counsel that what seems to have happened was a combination of a systems failure and human error.
The court was told Premier Periclase has a very good safety record on site and a new cleaning system is in place to clear blockages by working downwards from scaffolding.
The company has a workforce of around 100, Managing Director Gerry Teeling said the loss of Paddy Lambe, was devastating for all of them as he said they had lost a great friend and colleague.
Mr. Lambe’s widow Geraldine in a victim impact statement said part of her died that day, when she lost the love of her life, her best friend and her future.