Almost all the people we know and work with struggle with knowing the right mix of safety aspects and operational aspects when planning work. We do have to get the job done, but let’s do it safely is a common phrase through industry and construction. However, every now and then we come across a case where safety hasn’t been given any thought. When the risks are so severe and obvious the facts make for uncomfortable reading and, in this case, the utter failure to manage safety has resulted in an entirely preventable death of a young father of one.
Utter failure to manage safety: Golf company director jailed following lake death
Gareth Pugh was collecting golf balls from a lake at Peterstone Gold Course near Newport on behalf of Dale Pike, director of Boss Golf Balls. The works were to retrieve golf balls from a lake at the course, some thing which is typically conducted by qualified divers.
During the course of the work Mr Pugh, weighed down by the 341 golf balls (16kg) he had so far collected and the weighted belt which he wore, lost his breathing equipment and drowned.
Mr Pike was alerted by the constant stream of bubbles emerging from the water and altered the emergency services with Mr Pughs body being recovered from the water some 70 minutes later.
The court heard Pike, who ran Boss Golf Balls which sells balls retrieved from lakes, should have hired trained divers to carry out the work, at a cost of about £1,000 a day. But instead he employed Mr Pugh, who had ADHD and learning difficulties, and paid him £20-40 a day.
David Elias QC, defending, said Pike “naively and foolishly believed that all would be well with the use of that equipment in that lake”.
Sentencing Pike, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.
The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.
Iwan Jenkins, from the CPS, said: “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water knowing that safety regulations were being breached and which resulted in Gareth losing his life.
“There was clear evidence Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.