£5,000 fine for Ma­rine Har­vest

The Oban Times - - NEWS - MONICA GIBSON mgib­son@oban­times.co.uk

A HEALTH and safety de­fect was said to have ‘slipped through the net’ by one of Scot­land’s largest salmon pro­duc­ers as it was fined £ 5,000 for an ac­ci­dent at its Glen­finnan site.

Ma­rine Har­vest Scot­land Lim­ited was handed the penalty in Fort Wil­liam Sher­iff Court in re­la­tion to an ac­ci­dent which took place on Au­gust 2015 in­volv­ing Heather Pickard.

Wil­liam Glen and Steve Bracken at­tended on be­half of Ma­rine Har­vest on Tues­day (Oc­to­ber 8) as the com­pany ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for fail­ing to en­sure rel­e­vant health and safety mea­sures were taken at Salmon Bay on Loch Sheil be­tween Septem­ber 17, 2014, and Au­gust 17, 2015.

In par­tic­u­lar, the com­pany failed to pre­vent ac­cess to dan­ger­ous parts of ma­chin­ery – namely a sluice valve of a hop­per which con­nects to a fish feeder.

It was this fail­ure which lead to Heather Pickard suf­fer­ing se­vere in­jury and per­ma­nent dis­fig­ure as her hand was pulled into a valve which had not been iso­lated or guarded.

Ms Pickard had placed a bag used to collect cal­i­bra­tion sam­ples onto the hop­per when the ‘ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent’ hap­pened.

In ref­er­ence to pho­to­graphs and in­for­ma­tion which had been pro­vided to him in ad­vance of the hear­ing, Sher­iff Wil­liam Tay­lor said: ‘ What trou­bled me the most was that the iso­la­tor was not in reach and that the mesh was too nar­row.

‘What was re­quired was wider mesh, and a safety guard was not there be­cause it was widely shot to one side as it had so many de­fects.’

The com­pany’s de­fence lawyer agreed with the sher­iff and said that, up un­til the ac­ci­dent, the em­ploy­ees at Glen­finnan did not ap­pre­ci­ate the guard and that there was an ex­pec­ta­tion that noth­ing would hap­pen as a re­sult of mov­ing it – that there would be no dan­ger.

The court also heard that the man­ager was re­quired to have monthly health and safety meet­ings and that this was re­flected by way of bonuses, that monthly au­dits took place, and yet, in hind­sight, this ‘glar­ingly ob­vi­ous de­fect’ went un­no­ticed.

The so­lic­i­tor added that the com­pany de­scribed this as wholly re­gret­table and that the de­fect had ‘slipped through the net’.

Ms Pickard chose not to at­tend the hear­ing but the court heard she had re­turned to work in Fe­bru­ary of this year, that she and her col­leagues had been of­fered coun­selling fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent cour­tesy of Ma­rine Har­vest which had also or- gan­ised phys­io­ther­apy for her. Fur­ther­more, she had re­ceived full pay and bonuses while she was re­cov­er­ing and had been promised to be re­de­ployed if she was un­able to go back to her for­mer po­si­tion at the same pay but thank­fully this had not been nec­es­sary.

The com­pany had taken mea­sures to en­sure the de­fects were fixed im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ci­dent and that de­spite its size, Ma­rine Har­vest had pre­vi­ously en­joyed 50 years of good trad­ing and that this was its first of­fence.

In sum­ming up, Sher­iff Tay­lor said: ‘Ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion the ac­ci­dent was fore­see­able in the cir­cum­stances and ought to have been fore­seen.’

The £ 5,000 fine given was re­duced from £7,500 due to the early plea and re­ac­tion by Ma­rine Har­vest which was de­scribed to have be­haved re­spon­si­bly since the ac­ci­dent. In a state­ment given to The

Oban Times, Ben Had­field, Ma­rine Har­vest Scot­land man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, said: ‘ We are ex­tremely sorry this ac­ci­dent ever hap­pened and have put in place var­i­ous mea­sures to pre­vent some­thing like this hap­pen­ing again.

‘Heather is back at her work and her re­silience in mak­ing a good re­cov­ery and her de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­turn to work has been re­mark­able.’

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