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UCC to Overhaul Campus Health and Safety

UCC to Overhaul Campus Health and Safety

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UCC are set to implement changes to their health and safety systems and procedures after an inquest into the death of an employee ruled against the university. The Cork man employed at UCC died from wounds sustained from being run over by the wheel of a cherrypicker three years ago. The college was fined €80,000 last November after an inquest into the accident which found safety procedures regarding the use of MEWPs to be insufficient. UCC have now implemented changes to their health and safety protocols including mandatory training along with signaller vests.  

The court heard that Frank McGrath, a popular member of staff at the college, had not been trained to act as a warning man for a cherry picker and that there was a significant “blind spot” of up to 46m ahead of the vehicle, given the position the operator’s basket was in at the time.

UCC’s Director of Buildings and Estates Mark Poland told the inquest that the college has now introduced several new policies and procedures, including the training of specific signalling training for staff using cherry pickers.

UCC admitted two breaches of the Safety, Health & Welfare Act, 2005 having failed to “manage and conduct work activity, specifically the movement and operation of a mobile elevated work platform vehicle.” HSA inspector Michael Flynn warned that the type of machine involved is “very dangerous” because of a known blind spot to its front. Commenting on the case, the judge said: “There is no doubt UCC failed to carry out a complete risk assessment. If they did it, they failed to write it up in a safety statement in relation to the movement of vehicles across campus.”

The overall systems and practices in this instance had failed despite the judge noting UCC’s exemplary record. It is important in any workplace that all systems are effective and that every point in that system works if there is one missing link it is not an effective system. And an ineffective system is a health risk as we have seen here.

As a tribute to Mr McGrath, UCC planted a special tree in his memory and has also dedicated a special staff award in his name.

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