A BOY fell through a manhole cover to his death after a contractor failed to implement health and safety measures.

Shea Ryan, 10, slipped on a ladder inside the hole close to a play park near his home in Glasgow’s Drumchapel on July 16, 2020.

Shea was able to enter a construction site through an insecure fence before sitting beside the open cover situated 60 metres from the park. 

He told other children that he "wanted to go down".

Clydebank Post:

Clydebank Post:

Prosecutor Saud Ul-Hassan told Glasgow Sheriff Court: “Shea began to climb down the ladder where he slipped and fell.

“From the position of the ladder, he fell to the water below.”

The distance between the ladder and the bottom of the manhole was 6.3 metres.

The other children raised the alarm and Shea’s stepdad Graham Patterson entered the manhole.

Police attended and officers found Shea lying on his back with Mr Patterson and a neighbour beside him.

Mr Ul-Hassan said: “Shea was seen to have severe head injuries, cold to the touch and was not breathing.”

An officer brought Shea to the surface and performed CPR before he was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital, but he could not be saved.

The cause of death was noted as “head injury and drowning".

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Contractor RJ McLeod was in control of the construction site having taken temporary possession from another company, ABV.

RJ McLeod was carrying out work on a Glasgow City Council project on surface water to reduce flooding in the area. 

An investigation carried out stated that the company “failed to undertake a full assessment on the work area and consider its close proximity to the nearby play park and the risk of children being attracted to the site, as well as identify the measures to prevent unauthorised access".

The company was also found not to have kept the existing measures under review. 

It was further criticised for not having double fencing on the area of the site.

The hearing was told that the fencing had been subject to vandalism in the past and that the site had been breached on six occasions.

The fencing had been bolstered in the past but this did not happen at the area near the play park. 

Mr Ul-Hassan said: “There was a lack of a formal written system that all fence reports ... were recorded in writing.”

It was stated as a result the company didn’t take sufficient action to eliminate known risks until after the incident. 

The reason for the manhole cover being removed has not been determined. 

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Since the incident, the company has increased its fencing measures and a log has been formed. Manhole covers are also subject to checks. 

Motions sensors and solar powered security cameras are also installed. 

It was revealed a fatal accident inquiry into Shea’s death will take place at a later date. 

The company, based near the city’s Carmyle, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure people not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

It was revealed that it had two previous convictions - one relating to asbestos in which it was fined £1750 in 2004.

The other conviction was a health and safety breach in 2006 where it was fined £35,000.

Paul Marshall, defending, told the court: “I extend deepest sympathies for the tragic loss to the family of Shea.

“The company takes safety very seriously and it is a matter of great concern and remorse that he lost his life for the breach which the company accepts responsibility.

“The company accepts responsibility for the breaches libelled which was failing to carry out a sufficient risk assessment on people gaining access to the construction site.”

The site was closed on the anniversary of Shea’s death before work was completed in late 2021.

Joanne Ferguson, Shea’s mother, reacted to the conviction after the trial.

In a statement via Digby Brown she said: “I am glad RJ McLeod finally admitted guilt.

“My son is not here and that destroys me every day.

“That totally avoidable accident has ruined my life and my kids' lives – I don’t even feel human anymore at times because of the grief.

“I just hope this makes them consider site safety everywhere – not just for RJ McLeod but for companies everywhere because the safety of these places is so important.

“I’d like to thank the prosecution for getting this over the line and holding this company accountable and for the emergency services who at least tried to save my boy.

“I also want to thank my family, friends and the Drumchapel community for their support too.

“Wee Shea is missed every second of every day and his family and friends will always love and miss him.”

Sentence was deferred until later this week by Sheriff Matthew Jackson KC.