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July 5, 2011

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£640,000 penalty for confined space fatalities

Two companies have been fined a total of £640,000 following the death of two workers who died while mounting a rescue operation on a barge moored at a salmon farm in Scotland.

Oban Sherriff Court heard that Logan Inglis Ltd had been contracted by Scottish Sea Farms Ltd to repair a hydraulic crane on a barge at Loch Creran, Argyll and Bute. On 11 May 2009, Logan Inglis engineer Arthur Raikes began examining the crane with Scottish Sea Farms worker Campbell Files.

Having identified that the fault was being caused by the crane’s hydraulics, the men accessed a concealed compartment below decks. Within a minute of climbing down the ladder into the compartment Mr Files passed out, while Mr Raikes felt light-headed and managed to climb back out. Two of Mr Files’ colleagues, Maarten Den Heijer and Robert MacDonald, entered the compartment to rescue him but lost consciousness almost immediately.

The three men were rescued by the emergency services but only Mr Files recovered and his colleagues were pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation found that the oxygen levels below deck were very low because water in the compartment had caused the formation of rust, which removes oxygen from the air. 

HSE Principal Inspector Barry Baker explained that Scottish Sea Farms had failed to carry out a survey to identify concealed spaces on the barge and to prevent workers from accessing these spaces unless they had been given confined-space training.

He also revealed that Logan Inglis had not provided its employees with specialist training so they could identify confined spaces. He said: “These two men were trying to help save their colleague’s life when they tragically lost their own. Aquaculture is an important industry in Scotland and one that we can be very proud of; however, we must not forget that the marine environment is dangerous and unforgiving.

“The deaths in this case should have been avoided – the risks should have been identified and a clear and safe system of work prepared. Only those fully trained in confined-pace work and emergency rescue should have carried out the work in the chamber, and only after a full risk assessment, including air monitoring and testing for oxygen levels.”

Both companies appeared in court yesterday (4 July) and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. Scottish Sea Farms was fined £600,000 and Logan Inglis was fined £40,000. No costs were awarded as the case was heard in Scotland.€

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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Bt
Bt
11 years ago

This another sad loss,When a firms are fined such a large amount where does the money go,has any body asked this question .Do the left over families see any of it.
At least 5 times in last ten years, I had lost potential work because of H&S costing on jobs or refusing to enter confined spaces to carry out work without correct equipment ,whilst on job,enclosed plant rooms with no air system,pool enclosures and voids single entry points no ventilation.

Jb_Lane
Jb_Lane
11 years ago

The answer to Burts question off whether the families receive money from the fines, no.
The fines are brought about by courts usually when employers are in breach of the HASWA 1974, this breach being found to be a criminal offence.

The bereived relatives will however have access to claims through the Employers Liabillity Insurance for the dead and injured parties. This payment never has and never will address the cost value off life or death at work.

Rob
Rob
11 years ago

Another avoidable set of fatalities. Easily avoidable but yet again lack of knowledge and lack of understanding. People still don’t take their management responsibilities seriously and there is definately a “don’t see don’t care attitude”. When H + S starts to get as many headlines as the pathetic Cheryl Cole new hairstyle maybe we can see a change in attitude and culture!!!

Shp
Shp
11 years ago

So I see Scottish Sea Farms is appealing this decision.

Stephen
Stephen
11 years ago

if the poster burt tree could post in plain understandable english it would help to better understand what his point is: i think he is complainimng that he has lost out on contracts because the client demanded high standards of safety, which he couldnt or wouldnt provide. Well done the clients if this be the case.

Stephen
Stephen
11 years ago

I like cheryls new hair style actually