Photographer crushed by digger at entrance to building site

Harvey Wolfe spent weeks photographing redevelopment of former hotel in Skerries

54-year-old camera enthusiast Harvey Wolfe had worked on building sites previously, the Dublin Coroner’s Court was told.

54-year-old camera enthusiast Harvey Wolfe had worked on building sites previously, the Dublin Coroner’s Court was told.

 

A 54-year-old camera enthusiast sustained fatal crush injuries when he was struck by the cab of a moving digger at the edge of a building site, his inquest has heard.

Harvey Wolfe, from Skerries Co Dublin, had spent weeks photographing the redevelopment of a former hotel on Harbour Road in Skerries.

Mrs Patricia Wolfe paid tribute to her son whom she said had worked on building sites previously.

“He was very good to me, he looked after me very well,” she told Dublin Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.

On February 21st, 2014 the driver of a 16-tonne digger was moving a delivery load of stones from the road outside into the site.

Site access was ‘tight’ and a gate had to be removed to allow construction traffic to enter, the court heard.

Foreman Ivor Rees said the digger driver had moved three quarters of the load when the accident happened around 11.30am.

“I noticed a man come around and stand by the digger, I shouted but it was too late. The back of the digger caught Harvey and he fell back onto the stones,” Mr Rees said.

Health and Safety Authority (HSA) Inspector Frank Kerins said the cab of the machine was moving as the arm was slewing right to left, moving the stones. “There was a gap of 3.5 feet between the machine and the gatepost and when the machine moved that gap reduced significantly to eight inches,” he said.

Mr Rees knew Mr Wolfe and had previously granted him supervised access to the site along with a high-visibility vest and hard-hat in line with visitor safety regulations.

“He used to come down to take photos. He was interested in what we were doing,” Mr Rees said.

Mr Wolfe was rushed immediately to Beaumont Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1.35pm.

The cause of death was multiple injuries sustained in a collision with an excavator.

All seven workers on site were described as ‘shook up’ after the accident and received counselling.

The contractor, Felix O’Hare and Co, based in Newry, Co Down, was prosecuted at Dublin Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to Section 12 of the Health Safety and Welfare at Work Act 2005. A fine of €25,000 was imposed and paid.

Safety failures outlined by the HSA included the lack of an effective barrier preventing public access to the site and the lack of a supervisor or ‘banks man’ overseeing safety on the public walkway.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended the mandatory presence of a banks man in similar situations and the refusal of access to all non-essential personnel to construction sites at all times.