Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

June 23, 2015

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Technip UK fined £160k over North Sea death

Technip UK Limited, a global leader in project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry, has been sentenced after the death of a man who was working on the diving support vessel, Wellservicer in April 2009.

David Stephenson died after being injured in an accident close to Aberdeen harbour. Although he was flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, he was later pronounced dead.

It was heard how on April 1 it was found that there was a problem with the buoyancy blocks attached to the dive bell. These were found to be touching the cursor frame and so preventing the frame from fully engaging with the dive bell.

Within the bell hanger area, Mr Stephenson put on a safety harness and a fall arrestor, which clips onto the cursor to hold him in an upright position should he fall.

He climbed onto the top of the forward dive bell and, as he started to remove the bolts, the cursor descended towards the forward dive bell from a height of about 8 to 10 ft. Mr Stephenson tried to jump off the dive bell, but his safety harness locked and he was struck by the cursor and pinned down.

An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) concluded the cursor should have been prevented from descending by the braking system on the secondary winch but became ineffective for some reason.

The cursor was a suspended load, suspended from a system that had not yet been accepted. It had not been positively secured using strops or preventer pins. Had those pins been in place, it is likely the cursor’s descent would have been arrested very soon after it had begun and the death would therefore have been prevented.

It appeared to the MCA that the hazard posed by working under a suspended load and the potential for that to descend had not been recognised and accordingly additional control measures had not been put in place.

Technip UK Limited was fined £160,000 after it admitted a breach of regulation 5 of the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessel (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997, at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency head of enforcement Jeremy Smart said: “This was a tragic incident which should never have happened and our sympathies go out to the family of Mr Stephenson.

“This incident clearly demonstrates that proper risk assessments need to be conducted before any operation is undertaken and the appropriate safety measures put in place.

“Safety failings like this are not acceptable in any industry.”

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