Heavy fines imposed on two transport related firms

Two companies featured in the media spotlight for the wrong reasons recently, namely Kilsaran Concrete and Owen McElroy Limited, both of which had court appearances and were substantially fined for a breach of safety and drivers’ hours regulations in cases investigated by the Health & Safety Authority and the Road Safety Authority.

Kilsaran Concrete, a large manufacturer of concrete products based in Dunboyne, County Meath, had a fine of €125,000 quashed and a new fine of €1,000,000 imposed by the Court of Appeal (Criminal) in the Criminal Court of Justice, after the DPP appealed the leniency of the original fine.

The case originally arose when an employee of Kilsaran Concrete, Barry Gargan, was fatally injured on 6 September 2011, when he was working on the wet cast manufacturing unit. Due to the danger of the automated moving equipment, the unit was surrounded by a safety cage. Mr. Gargan was instructed to work inside this safety cage which was then closed allowing the process to be started but was fatally injured when a hydraulic arm pinned him against a vibrating table.

Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health & Safety Authority said, “A fine of this size sends a clear signal that the safety, health and welfare of workers is of paramount importance and cannot be disregarded. This accident was caused by a deliberate breach of safety procedures and should not have happened.”

Following an investigation by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Owen McElroy Limited of Carrickrobin, Kilkerley, Dundalk, County Louth was before Dundalk District Court on 6 April 2017. The company, which operates a road transport business, pleaded guilty to a series of charges for failing to produce drivers’ hours records in respect of several vehicles operated by the company.

The Court convicted and fined the company a total of €10,000 in respect of the charges and also made an award of costs. The RSA investigation revealed serious and systematic non-compliance by this road transport operator in ensuring compliance with the European Communities (Road Transport) (Working Conditions and Road Safety) Regulations 2008.

Since February 2011, the RSA has successfully prosecuted 38 cases against both road transport operators and drivers for breaches of drivers’ hours, tachograph and road transport operator licensing laws in County Louth.

EU Regulations require operators to organise and monitor drivers’ work and the clear purpose of the regulations is to place a responsibility on an employer of drivers to prevent contraventions of the drivers’ hours rules and to promote road safety.

The RSA is working hard to make our roads safer. A more targeted approach towards enforcement is being implemented and those operators who are serially and seriously non-compliant are being targeted by the Authority and An Garda Síochána. The Authority tries to minimise disruption to the most compliant operators. A stepped approach to enforcement is applied by the RSA and only the most serious cases are taken to Court.