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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

Company fined for breaching health and safety laws after tragic incident

The case arose after an accident in which a bus carrying students flipped onto its roof, resulting in the death of a teenager.

File
File

A TRAGIC INCIDENT in which a bus flipped onto its roof, resulting in the death of a student and injuries to others, led to a company being fined for breaching health and safety laws.

The Health and Safety Authority said that a fine of €25,000 was imposed on O’Reilly Commercials Ltd today by Judge Heneghan in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

O’Reilly Commercials Ltd was found guilty of a breach of health and safety legislation and was convicted by a jury of contravening Section 7 (1) of the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 1989. It breached the act in failing to conduct its undertaking to ensure that persons not in its employment, who may be affected, were not exposed to risks to their safety, said the HSA.

The company failed to note the modified rear suspension on vehicle registration number 89WD2218 whilst carrying out a statutory Department of Environment (DOE) test on 5/6 August 2005, the court heard.

Death

The case arose as the result of an investigation into an accident in 2006. The accident resulted in the death of a 15-year-old student Michael White, and injuries to others. It occurred when the vehicle (a bus) was carrying students to school on a stretch of road near Clara, Co Offaly, on 4 April 2006.

While the bus was in transit, its back axle became completely detached from its rear suspension, which in turn lead to the bus flipping over onto its roof. Its occupants received multiple injuries as a result.

The bus had passed a statutory DOE test on the 5/6 August 2005 in O’Reilly Commercials Ltd before the accident.

The HSA stated that the court heard that the rear suspension on the bus had been modified in 1991 and that this modified rear suspension design had subsequently been the subject of a safety recall of about 200 vehicles by the UK authorities in 1996.

The court heard that a DOE test should not be carried out on any vehicle with a safety critical design modification without certification of that modification by the manufacturer, or a suitably qualified engineer.

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said today:

There is a duty on all employers to ensure proper maintenance is carried out on vehicles and that inspections are undertaken in a competent manner, especially when it relates to safety of vehicles on the road. Failure to notice defects of vehicles may lead to tragic consequences as reflected in this case.

The bus owner had received a 12-month suspended jail sentence earlier this month after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 12 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 in that he failed to maintain the bus in a fit state.

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