december bulletin

In the News Elsewhere

Wind farm firms admit safety breaches over worker who froze to death, & Arborist fined after 16-year-old employee sustains life-changing injuries.

Wind farm firms admit safety breaches over worker who froze to death.

A construction company and a security firm have admitted breaching health and safety rules in an incident which led to the death of a 74-year-old wind farm security guard (IP).
The IP died in hospital after he had been “exposed to extreme weather conditions” for several hours at the wind farm construction site. Another security guard was also exposed to the heavy snow and cold.

In court the construction firm and security firm admitted failing to provide a reliable source of heating at the site. The companies also failed to provide an adequate system of communication so their staff could contact the emergency services. They also failed to ensure there was a plan in place to evacuate the security guards in an emergency.

The tragedy unfolded after The Met Office issued a yellow “be aware” warning for heavy snow across large swathes of Scotland. The IP’s family became concerned when he failed to return from a 12-hour shift. They tried to call his mobile phone but the signal at the construction site was patchy at best, and they could not make contact. A search was mounted for him after the alarm was raised at about 20:20 hours.

The family were told at 01:00 that Police Scotland’s Mountain Rescue Team had found the security guard about a mile from his cabin and more than six hours after his shift finished. He was airlifted off the site with a younger colleague. The cause of death was confirmed as hypothermia.

Both the construction company and the security company were ordered to pay significant fines.

Arborist fined after 16-year-old employee sustains life-changing injuries.

A self-employed arborist has been fined after a 16- year-old employee suffered serious injuries following a chainsaw incident. The self-employed arborist was using a chainsaw to fell trees and then remove the branches, while his employee collected the sections. As the arborist began to remove one of the branches, the young worker attempted to pick it up, unaware that it was still attached to the felled tree, the chainsaw jammed, pulling the employee’s right arm into the blade.

The 16-year-old sustained a partial amputation of his index finger and deep lacerations to his dominant hand, requiring multiple operations over a three-year period. These life changing injuries have left him permanently disfigured.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a failure to provide a safe system of work which ensured chainsaw operators maintained safe working distances from other employees, to prevent them coming into contact with the blade. In addition, employees were not adequately trained or supervised when carrying out work with chainsaws.

The self-employed arborist pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and received a fine.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kim Ross said: “This incident was entirely preventable; the risks from working with chainsaws are well known. Employers have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide their employees with the appropriate information, instruction and training.

“This case particularly highlights the importance of protecting young workers who may be less familiar with risks in the workplace. HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action, especially when young people are put at risk.”

NOTE: As reported last month FISA are establishing a group to look at risk zones, especially around chainsaw works. We will report on findings from the FISA Group as they become available.