Company fined after surveyor dies

A global energy group based in Scotland has been ordered to pay £80,000 after a surveyor was killed by an electrical explosion.

Christopher Earley, a director at CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd, was carrying out an asbestos survey for Global Energy Nigg (GEN) at its premises in the Cromarty Firth on 10 December 2020.

He was inspecting an electric panel when it exploded. He suffered burns to a third of his body, affecting his face, right arm, right side of his chest and left hand. Three months later the father-of-four passed away aged 64 following multiple infections and sepsis complications brought on by his injuries.

The switch room Mr Earley was surveying at the time of the incident was not in an appropriate condition, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators told the court. This created a risk as the live switch panels did not have a warning label indicating they were energised with electricity running through them.

There was no warning of electrical danger at the internal doorway between the shop and the switch room – the internal door itself was missing. This failure to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition was the underlying cause of the incident. The primary duty of care belonged to GEN.

At Tain Sheriff Court, Global Energy Nigg Ltd admitted breaching Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £80,000.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices, said HSE inspector Niall Miller after the sentence was handed down. "Companies should be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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