Glasgow contractor facing civil case after 10-year-old Shea Ryan entered site through unsecured fence

A mother is suing Glasgow-based contractor RJ McLeod over health and safety failures which led to the death of her 10-year-old son.

Shea Ryan entered a site in Drumchapel, Glasgow in July 2020 and hit his head after falling 20ft down a manhole.

Ryan and a group of friends had gained access to the site, which was close to a playpark, through a single unsecured fence which had already been vandalised and breached on six occasions.

RJ McLeod site

Source: HSE

Shea Ryan fell down a manhole after entering the Drumchapel site through a single unsecured fence

RJ McLeod was fined £800,000 in April after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws at a site in Drumchapel, Glasgow. The firm was also ordered to pay a £60,000 victim surcharge.

The firm declined to comment on the civil case brought by Ryan’s mother Joanne Ferguson, which will be handled by law firm Digby Brown.

Ferguson said after the hearing that she hoped construction firms would learn lessons from the incident.

“My son is not here and that destroys me every day,” she said in April.

“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.”

RJ McLeod said at the time that it “extended condolences” to Ryan’s family.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We have carried out a comprehensive review of the event and have taken action to protect against the risk of a re-occurrence.

“We fully co-operated and engaged with the investigating authorities.

“Safety is always our top priority and site safety updates are implemented across the business on an ongoing basis.”

The site was part of a surface water management project being carried out on behalf of Glasgow council.

An investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that insufficient measures had been taken to prevent children gaining access to the construction site.

The HSE investigation also found that RJ McLeod had “failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of unauthorised persons gaining access to the site, which resulted in a failure to adequately inspect and maintain suitable perimeter fencing, and install other suitable security measures.”

HSE principal inspector Graeme McMinn said Ryan “should never have been able to get onto and play on that site”.  

“The security measures should have taken account of the adjacent children’s play park and the likelihood of children trying to gain access,” McMinn said.

“The company should have had robust measures in place to maintain the fence line that was regularly being damaged and consider what additional security measures were needed to deter and prevent unauthorised access.

“The construction industry should be aware that some children can be drawn to construction sites as exciting places to play. 

“It must do everything it can to keep them out of construction sites and away from danger to prevent a tragedy such as this happening again.”