Company fined £800,000 and Fatal Accident Inquiry decision following the death of a young boy

A construction company has been fined £800,000 for health and safety failings which led to the death of a 10-year-old boy.

RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 12 April 2023 to a health and safety at work breach committed in July 2020.

The procurator fiscal depute told Glasgow Sheriff Court that Shéa Ryan, along with a number of other children, was able to get into a Drumchapel construction site through an insecure fence on 16 July 2020.

While playing there, Shéa was able to access a manhole and begin to climb down. As he did so, he slipped and fell over six metres to the bottom of the manhole sustaining fatal injuries.

The construction site was part of a surface water management project being undertaken by Glasgow City Council. At the time of the incident RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited was the Principal Contractor.

 Prior to Shéa’s death, the company did not have a formal written system for monitoring damage to its perimeter fencing. The lack of a formal written system meant the company did not have sufficient information to assess ongoing risk at the site

Since Shéa’s death the company has implemented enhanced measures including new risk assessments, double line fencing and increased triangulation of fencing, formal written reporting of the daily and weekend fence checks. They have also put in place CCTV covering the fence line across the whole site with motion sensors and manhole covers weighed down by ballast bags.

Following the conclusion of the investigation and criminal proceedings the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service decided that it is in the public interest to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry to examine the full circumstances surrounding Shéa Ryan’s death, identify the learning and help to avoid such incidents happening in the future.

Shea’s family have been informed of the decision to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry. The views of the family will be sought as part of the FAI process and they will continue to be updated on any significant developments.

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the COPFS, said:  

“The untimely death of child is particularly tragic, and our thoughts are with Shéa’s family as they continue to deal with the pain they have suffered following his death.

“His death could have been prevented had RJ McLeod (Contractors) Limited put in place suitable and sufficient measures to manage the risk of children accessing the site.      

“This prosecution should remind duty holders that a failure to manage and implement effective measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.

“It is important that any learning, to help prevent deaths in a similar situation, is put in the public domain and there will be a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the full circumstances of Shéa’s death in due course.”