Jail sentence for plant hire boss after mobile platform collapse

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A plant hire boss has received a jail sentence for the death of a worker following a mobile platform collapse

A two year jail sentence has been handed to a plant hire boss after a worker died on a mobile platform.

A 16 day trial was held at Airdrie Sherriff Court, during which evidence was presented relating to the incident.

The court process revealed how safety net rigger Gary Currie and his colleague Alexander Nisbet were removing netting from the façade of the Buchanan House office block in Glasgow when the mobile platform collapsed. Evidence presented explained that the two men were in the basket of the platform when the third main boom section buckled. This caused the basket to fall 28 metres.

Currie died as a result of his injuries while Nisbet suffered serious damage to his body. Safety failings were said to be the reason for the incident.

Health and safety breaches

Craig Services & Access Limited was found guilty of three charges and manager Donald Craig was prosecuted for breaching health and safety legislation. Craig was handed a maximum jail sentence of two years.

The Hamilton-based firm was ordered to pay a fine of £61,000 for failing to carry out maintenance on the mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) as well as for the collapse of the equipment.

J M Access Solutions Ltd was also fined £30,000 for failing to carry out correct examination of the platform and ensuring it was safe for use. In May 2011 Craig Services & Access Limited instructed a repair to the damaged section of the main boom. This was carried out incorrectly and J M Access Solutions Ltd failed in their duty to examine the platform adequately.

Gary Aitken, Head of Health and Safety Division said: “This incident, which resulted in the death of Gary Currie and caused serious injury to Alexander Nisbet, could have been avoided had Donald Craig and Craig Services & Access Limited heeded advice and taken measures to maintain the platform in a safe condition.

“At the centre of this all was the decision to instruct this repair. It was a decision that left Gary Currie and Alexander Nisbet exposed to an unacceptable risk and was essentially an accident waiting to happen.

“A MEWP is a safety critical piece of equipment and it was highly foreseeable that such a repair would risk the lives of those using the equipment.

“This incident has left family and friends devastated at the loss of a loved one.

“Hopefully this prosecution will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”

Death was avoidable

Health and Safety Executive Principal Inspector Graeme McMinn also commented, noting the death of Currie was avoidable and should not have happened.

“Craig Services and Access Ltd and Donald Craig were advised by the manufacturer to replace the damaged boom,” he said.

“Instead, they chose a much cheaper repair that left the boom in an unsafe condition.

“Guidance in the British Standard “Safe Use of MEWPS” advises that repairs to any parts of the MEWP structure should be in accordance with the procedure specified by the manufacturer.

“At the time of the accident the MEWP had a catalogue of defects some of which were safety critical demonstrating that Craig Services and Access Ltd did not have an adequate proactive maintenance and reactive repair system in place within the company.

“For a complex piece of equipment such as the MEWP, that system should have included daily pre-use checks, intermediate inspections and maintenance based on manufacturer recommendations and six monthly thorough examinations carried out by a competent person independent of the MEWP owner.

“The competence and diligence of a thorough examiner is vital as it is they who declare the MEWP safe to use. JM Access Solutions Ltd failed to carry out a diligent thorough examination and declared the MEWP safe to use.

“The British Standard provides guidance on what an examination should include following a major repair on a MEWP structure. Non-destructive testing and load testing should have been carried out and overload testing discussed with the manufacturer.

“This tragic accident should highlight the absolute duty for owners of MEWPS to maintain them to ensure continued safe operation.”

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