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Engineering company heavily fined after breaching health and safety laws

by Direct 2 Lawyers on August 12, 2013

A Scottish company has been heavily fined by the Livingstone Sheriffs Court after it admitted breaching health and safety laws, leading to serious injury to an employee.

Mr Kenneth Hunter, 33, was working for Oil States Kaper Ltd at its site in Bathgate when the accident happened in May 2011.

Mr Hunter was working at the site on 25 May 2011, trying to deal with an annnular. An annular is a type of blow-out prevention device that is used in the oil and gas industry to prevent potential blow-outs during oil well drilling – blow-outs which can potentially endanger oil rig platforms.

The Health and Safety Executive received a report of the accident and conducted an investigation into the matter. This investigation recommended that a prosecution be initiated against Oil States Kaper Ltd.

The case came before the Livingston Sheriffs Court on 26 July 2013. The Livingston Sheriffs Court heard evidence from the HSE that the company had failed to provide a safe system of work or that suitable equipment was used to undertake that work. The investigation also found that the firm had failed to ensure that the workers had adequate supervision at work – failure which, it was alleged led to the injury to Mr Hunter.

The company was charged with breaching s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and pleaded guilty to the charge. It was therefore fined £40,000 but – in an unusual step – the court did not order it to pay the costs of the prosecution.

HSE Inspector Kerry Cringan stated after the case: “This was an entirely preventable accident which could have been avoided had simple controls been in place. There was the potential for this failure to result in fatal or serious injuries not only to the person working on the annular, but also to employees in the surrounding area.”

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