Company boss fined after scaffolder fell to his death

Meridian Quay under construction 2008
Meridian Quay under construction 2008
Meridian Quay under construction 2008 has reported that the boss of a building company was given fines and costs totalling £25,000 today after one of his workers fell to his death while constructing Swansea Marina’s Meridian Quay tower complex.

And at Swansea Crown Court, 45-year-old Michael Febrey, managing director of now defunct Febrey Construction Ltd, was heavily criticised by judge Paul Thomas for trying to conceal his financial position when it came to assessing the level of his fine.

Febrey admitted two counts under Health and Safety legislation of failing to ensure the safety of workers.

It followed an incident in 2008 when father-of-two Russell Samuel, 40, of Thomas Street, Gilfach Goch, an experienced scaffolder, was working for Febrey Construction at the Swansea tower complex.

He died from multiple injuries after falling 62ft when dismantling scaffolding platforms on a nine-storey block of flats, part of the complex that includes the 29-storey Meridian Quay, Wales’ tallest residential building.

Ian Dixey, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said Mr Samuel fell through a hole that had previously contained a ladder.

It is believed he fell through a “fragile” cement board placed over the hole a few days earlier. Mr Dixey said it had never been established who put the board, which was unable to carry a person’s weight, in place.

He said risk assessments were not carried out by Febrey and health and safety monitoring was not properly done.

Last year, building firm Carillion Construction, the main contractor on the tower’s construction, was punished with fines and costs of £182,500 for Health and Safety failings over the death.

Febrey Construction Ltd, Carillion’s sub-contractor on the project, was handed a token fine of just £85 at the same hearing even though it was deemed to have been “more culpable” for Mr Samuel’s death.

The company collapsed with “substantial debts” after the fatality which meant only a small fine could be imposed on the company.

Today, Febrey, 45, of Bristol, managing director of Febrey Construction at the time of the fatal accident, became the only individual to be sentenced for Health and Safety breaches over the death.

Judge Thomas said his investigation into Febrey’s financial affairs, necessary to assess the level of fine he could impose, had been a “particularly difficult one”.

He said: “The defendant deliberately set out to conceal and obfuscate the process.

“Information has been drip-fed to the prosecution, some of it arriving at the eleventh hour.”

The judge said at one point the defendant’s liabilities were put at £450,000 but by last week that figure had been reduced to £64,000.

And Judge Thomas added in his sentencing remarks he believed one of the defendant’s claims, that he owed £150,000 over a house, was “a fiction”.

He fined Febrey £10,000 on each of the two Health and Safety at Work Act breaches and imposed costs of £5,000 which he now has two years to pay or face 12 months in jail in default.

The judge said: “A fine cannot for one moment reflect the awfulness of the consequences to Mr Samuel and his family.”

Malcolm Galloway, for Febrey, said: “Mr Febrey has asked me to convey to the family of Mr Samuel he had genuine grief over what happened and that he thinks about it virtually every day.”

Over his client’s financial position he said: “He’s in a continuing circle of debt.”

The court was told after the collapse of Febrey Construction, Febrey now runs a firm which does a similar job, Febrey Structures, which has a turnover of more than £1m a year.

Mr Galloway said:”Whatever he gets by way of salary, it’s only keeping his head above water.”

A member of Mr Samuel’s family present in court for yesterday’s sentencing said afterwards the family did not wish to comment.

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  1. The more money you have the more ways you have of hiding it, I have recently been working along side Febrey on a fair sized project. That company has got a few bucks judging by the plant and man power they had, to say he wasn’t on good money is laughable considering how much he was paying his men. Charge hand was on £160 a day and sweeper uppers £120. And he had about 60 blokes on that job so he found their wages every week.