Widow's anger after trench tragedy fine
Graham Gibson • Published 17 Jun 2011 08:34
THE grieving widow of a Torryburn man killed on a building site insists he would not have blamed his school pal held responsible for the accident.
Lisa Scott was pregnant with their first child when husband Graeme was killed while laying pipes in a trench in Glasgow's Cranhill Park three years ago.
Last week site foreman William Parry (33), of High Valleyfield, was fined £240 after pleading guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector investigating the death insisted that Mr Scott "would be alive today" had the site foreman taken simple precautions.
However, Lisa told the Press she thought it was unfair that Mr Parry, who had known her late husband since they were at primary school, had been blamed solely for the incident and believes her husband would have felt the same way.
Lisa, who was speaking on behalf of Graeme's family, including parents, Peter and Angela, and brother, Iain, said, "Of course he would be absolutely devastated if he knew this would happen and he wouldn't be able to see his son but I don't think Graeme would hold William Parry responsible.
"I accept that Mr Parry was partly to blame but I feel that the whole thing has been dealt with quite unfairly. It wasn't just the responsibility of Mr Parry to upkeep the health and safety. I feel there was an extreme lack of supervision.
"It is a really difficult situation. Mr Parry was also Graeme's friend and they'd been friends since they were at primary school. The whole situation is quite unbearable."
Lisa was still angry after claiming she had never even had an apology from Cameron and Stevenson (Scotland) Ltd, the company that Mr Scott was working for when the accident happened.
"I have had no contact from Cameron and Stevenson since the accident, no apologies, nothing from them," she said.
"There is a pending fatal accident inquiry. I hope that other matters will come to light and hopefully some lessons can be learned from this to prevent accidents like this happening in the future."
Mr Scott was walking along the side of a three-metre-deep trench dug to replace a sewer in Cranhill Park on 3rd April 2008 when it collapsed beneath him and he fell into the trench.
He began to make his way out but as he did so part of the trench wall collapsed on top of him.
Mr Scott's colleagues made frantic attempts to dig him out and when emergency services arrived on the scene they continued these efforts.
However, when Mr Scott was found there were no signs of life and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post mortem examination established that he had died of chest injury and probable suffocation.
An investigation established that there was no edge protection to the trench and that the sides of the trench had not been supported to make them safe.
HSE inspectors also found that even though trench boxes were available on site to help keep workers safe, they had not been using them.
Their investigation found that Mr Parry, as foreman, had put himself and his colleagues at risk by not using the safety measures his employers had told him to use.
HSE inspector Graeme McMinn said, "If Mr Parry had taken the simple precautions he had been instructed to take, then Graeme Scott would be alive today.
"No measures were taken to prevent the trench collapsing or to stop workers falling into the trench despite appropriate equipment being readily available on site.
"Mr Parry was working as the foreman and was properly trained in the right way to do trench work.
"The team had been told at the beginning of the job to use trench boxes to protect themselves.
"Although the team's employers should have supervised them more closely, as foreman Mr Parry had a duty to take reasonable care of the safety of his team."
Mr Scott had grown up in Newmills and married Lisa at Torryburn Church six months before the accident.
His death plunged the close-knit community into mourning and his parents still live in Newmills.
Lisa added, "On behalf of myself and Graeme's family we're still deeply saddened by the loss of Graeme.
"The impact it's had on our lives is unbelievable. I'd known Graeme since I was 13.
"I've now got a son called Graeme and Graeme's memory lives on in him.
"Nothing can ever compensate for the fact that Graeme will have to go through his life without his dad.
"His son is like him in many ways and reminds me of him. He was a wonderful person, full of fun. He was my best friend."
A Crown Office spokesperson said, "Following the conviction of William Parry on 9th June 2011 at Glasgow Sheriff Court, it is intended to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Graeme Scott. No dates have yet been set for the proceedings."
According to a HSE statement Cameron and Stevenson (Scotland) Ltd has gone into liquidation.
All attempts by the Press to contact the company for a response received no reply.
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 24 Jun 11