Two companies have been fined a total of £640,000 following the death of two fish farm workers on a barge moored at a salmon farm on Loch Creran, Argyll & Bute.
Scottish Sea Farms worker, Campbell Files and engineer Arthur Raikes – employed by Logan Inglis Limited, Cumbernauld – were fixing a hydraulic crane on the barge when they went below deck to find cabling and pipework.
The oxygen levels below deck were very low and Mr Files passed out while Mr Raikes managed to climb back out. In an attempt to rescue Mr Files, two colleagues, Maarten Den Heijer and Robert MacDonald entered the small chamber below deck but lost consciousness almost immediately.
The three men needed to be rescued by emergency services but only Mr Files recovered, while his colleagues died at the scene.
Following the incident on 11 May 2009, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered Scottish Sea Farms had not provided suitable information, instruction and training for employees working in the small sealed chambers on the Loch Creran barge or a safe way for them to work.
Logan Inglis Limited had not provided information, instruction or training for their engineers on working in these confined spaces so Mr Raikes was also not aware of the risks he faced on the barge.
Neither company had identified the risk to their respective employees from working in the confined space chambers.
At Oban Sheriff Court today, 4 July, Scottish Sea Farms, was fined £600,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Logan Inglis Limited of 14 Dunswood Road, Wardpark South, also pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £40,000.
Commenting at the conclusion of the case HSE Principal Inspector Barry Baker 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.
“Since September 2007 the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has started three investigations into incidents in which a total of six seafarers have died in confined spaces.
“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 space 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.”