Contractor fined after young carpenter dies

A carpentry contractor has been fined after a 22-year-old man died after he was struck by construction equipment on a building site.

On 30 October 2019, Niall McCormack from Kettering, Northamptonshire had been working for KM Carpentry Contractors Limited installing roof trusses at a new build site at Alconbury Weald, Cambridgeshire.

Both the truss packs and party wall spandrel panel had been lifted by crane onto a pair of semi-detached properties the day before the incident – temporarily supported by timber restraints.

Niall McCormack was just 22 when he was killed on a building site

Mr McCormack was working with another carpenter to remove trusses from the pack, to then spread and install across the building. As the two carpenters were in the process of spreading, the wind caught a spandrel panel, pushing it against the remaining trusses in the pack. Both the truss pack and spandrel panel fell into the work area. Niall McCormack was struck by the falling material and suffered a fatal head injury.

An investigation by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that KM Carpentry Contractors Limited had failed to identify the risk of wind loading, and the effect this could have on the stability of the spandrel panel prior to being secured in place. The method statement for the installation of the spandrel panels included lifting and placing them on the roof only after the roof trusses had been installed and permanently secured. This could not be followed as they had both been placed on the roof at the same time as the roof trusses the day before.

HSE has guidance on the roles and responsibilities for contractors who directly employ or engage construction workers or manage construction work.

At Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on 25 April 2024, KM Carpentry Contractors Limited, of High Street, Higham Ferrers pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act.

The Company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,974 in costs.

Niall McCormack was struck by falling equipment on the site in Cambridgeshire

A family statement said: “The whole family has been badly affected by Niall’s loss. One of his friends is going to Australia and we can’t help thinking Niall should be here and going with him.

“Niall has lost the ability to grow up and have children of his own. He won’t be getting married and all the things you do as families. He’s missed out on so much, for what, going to work. No one should go to work and not come back.”

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jenny Morris said: “Our thoughts are with Niall’s family, a 22-year-old who was just setting out on his career in the construction industry.

“This case highlights the importance of identifying the risks associated with a work activity and ensuring a safe system of work is devised and then followed.”

The prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Samantha Wells and paralegal officer Lucy Gallagher.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More information about the legislation referred to in this case is available.
  3. Further details on the latest HSE news releases is available.