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September 24, 2010

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Offshore firms fined £243k for crush injury

Two companies have been fined a total of £243,750 following an accident that led to an offshore worker having a leg amputated.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that oil and gas operator Talisman Energy (UK) had contracted Scaldis Salvage and Marine Contractors N.V to install two wind-turbine generators on the Beatrice AP Oil Platform, which is 20 kilometres offshore in Moray Firth.

On 25 August 2006, Alexander Murray, 48, an agency worker employed by Talisman Energy, was standing on a partly-completed structure while another section was lowered into place by a heavy lift vessel, during the construction of Beatrice Windfarm Turbine B. As the part was swung into position it struck Mr Murray and crushed his leg. He was airlifted to hospital where doctors were forced to amputate his leg. He is still unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

A Prohibition Notice was issued on 12 December 2006, which ordered work to stop until a safe lifting plan had been created.

HSE Principal Inspector, Marc Nunn, said: “Mr Murray lost his leg in this avoidable incident, which could have easily had far worse consequences.€ᄄ€ᄄ“The case demonstrates the importance of adequately planning and assessing the risks, and implementing sensible management controls, for all lifting activities.€ᄄ
“Both Talisman and Scaldis should reasonably have foreseen the potential for the load to move, and taken measures to prevent their personnel being exposed to the hazards of a swinging load.”

Talisman Energy appeared in court on 23 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £225,000. Scaldis pleaded guilty to the same breach and was fined £18,750. No costs are awarded in Scotland.

In mitigation, Scaldis said it had no previous convictions and had complied with the Prohibition Notice. The work was completed safely after it installed a hanging basket for workers to stand inside when the parts were lowered into place.

After the hearing, a Talisman spokesman said: “We deeply regret the injury and distress
suffered by Mr Murray as a result of the accident, which occurred during the installation of the Beatrice Windfarm.
“Mr Murray is highly regarded by Talisman, and we were mindful that, as an agency worker, he was effectively self-employed. We take the health, safety and welfare of all our people very seriously and took steps to assist Mr Murray in a variety of ways, including financially, reflecting the nature of his injury and the impact on his life.
“The company acknowledges the comments made by the Sheriff and fully accepts his judgment and the fine imposed. The incident was the subject of a full investigation and lessons learned were incorporated into our safety management systems.”

Talisman had never been prosecuted by the HSE prior to the accident, but on 6 January 2007 a worker was killed and another injured in a poorly-managed lifting operation on the Bleo Holm support vessel in the North Sea, north-east of Aberdeen.

The incident saw Talisman Energy appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 9 October 2008, where it was fined £600,000 after pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974, by failing to ensure the safety of non-employees.

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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