Electrical contractor McDermott Brothers to face health and safety charges over accident on City of London site

The Health and Safety Executive is to prosecute electrical engineer McDermott Brothers over the death of a worker on a City of London project nearly fours ago.

However, Sir Robert McAlpine, the main contractor on the job, will not face action.

A source close to the investigation pointed to complications in the case as the reason for the unusually long delay between death and prosecution.

Vincent Dooley, a 54-year-old carpenter, died in an accident at a site at 280 Bishopgate in December 2000. An inquest at the City of London coroner’s court in February 2002 was told that he fell 3.5 m from a hole in the 14th floor of the building through to the 13th floor while working for McDermott Brothers.

The inquest recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

The source said that the HSE case had relied on the eyewitness statement of Dooley’s brother, who was working on the site. However, it is understood that he has also now died.

The source said: “A key part of the prosecution has been the eyewitness account. The prosecution has had to take a view of whether his written evidence could be used.”

McDermott Brothers refused to comment.

Coroner Douglas Chambers said that Dooley had suffered injuries to the head and other parts of his body after the fall. He asked the jury to reconvene after they failed on two occasions to agree a verdict on the cause of death.

The inquest heard that safety harnesses were available in the site office, but that Dooley was not wearing one. It was also unclear as to which of two uncovered holes Dooley fell through.

he HSE is to launch a pilot of its “Constructing Better Health” occupational health scheme in Leicester later this month.

The scheme aims to provide occupational health support for small firms that often lack the professional health and safety support accessible to larger companies.

The project will offer Leicestershire firms free resources including a helpline, training sessions, site checks and health screening for workers.

The HSE hopes to address “priority hazards” in construction, such as hand-arm vibration.