Contractor fined after worker suffers fatal head injury at Cambs building site

Niall McCormack, 22, was struck by falling equipment on a building site in Cambridgeshire
Niall McCormack, 22, was struck by falling equipment on a building site in Cambridgeshire -Credit:HSE

A carpentry firm has been fined £8,000 after a man was killed at a building site in Cambridgeshire. Niall McCormack, 22, from Kettering, Northamptonshire, was struck by construction equipment on October 30. 2019.

He was working for KM Carpentry Contractors Limited installing roof trusses at a site in Alconbury Weald. Truss packs and party wall spandrel panels were lifted by crane on a pair of semi-detached properties the day before, temporarily supported by timber restraints.

Mr. McCormack was with another carpenter to remove trusses from the pack and spread them across the building. However, the wind caught a spandrel panel, pushing it against the remaining trusses.

Read more: Cambs site off the A47 set for hotel, petrol station and drive-thru

Read more: Calls for motorway speed limit to be raised to 100mph - and 80mph on dual carriageways

Niall suffered a fatal head injury during the incident
Niall suffered a fatal head injury during the incident -Credit:HSE

Both the truss pack and spandrel panel fell into the work area. Niall was then hit by the falling material and died from a fatal head injury.

An investigation by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company 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.

KM Carpentry Contractors Limited, of High Street, Higham Ferrers pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Cambridge Magistrates Court on April 25, 2024. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,974 in costs.

A statement from Niall's family 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."

Do you want more of the latest Cambridgeshire news as it comes in? Sign up to our dedicated newsletter to make sure you never miss a big story from Cambridge or anywhere else in the county. You can also sign up to our dedicated Peterborough, Traffic and Crime newsletters for the latest updates on the topics you are most interested in.