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UK company fined £80,000 after surveyor killed by electrical explosion

24 January 2023

A company has been fined after a surveyor died from injuries caused by an electrical explosion in December 2020. The incident happened at Nigg Energy Park, in the Cromarty Firth in Scotland where the surveyor was carrying out an asbestos survey.

Global Energy Nigg Limited’s Shop 7 premises - Image: HSE
Global Energy Nigg Limited’s Shop 7 premises - Image: HSE

Christopher Wayne Earley, a Director at CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd, was injured by an electrical explosion while inspecting an electric panel. 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.

Earley had been carrying out the survey for Global Energy Nigg Limited at its Shop 7 premises at Nigg Energy Park. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the switch room he was surveying at the time of the incident was not in an appropriate condition. 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 Shop 7 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 Global Energy Nigg Limited.

Global Energy Nigg Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £80,000 on January 18.

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

Image (left): The remains of the end of the busbar following the explosion - Image: HSE

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