The 57-year-old manager of an access plant hire firm has been sentenced to a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for his neglect of health and safety obligations that led to the death of one man and caused serious injury to another.
After a 16 day trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Donald Craig was found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation.
During the trial, the court heard that on 20 June 2012, Gary Currie, a safety net rigger, and Alexander Nisbet, a self-employed operator contracted by Craig Services, were in the basket of the platform removing netting from the facade of the Buchanan House office block at Port Dundas Road in Glasgow city centre. While carrying out their work, the third main boom section buckled, causing the platform’s basket to fall 28 metres (approx. 92 feet) to the ground. This resulted in Alexander Nisbet suffering serious injuries and Gary Currie fatal ones.
The fatal incident followed an earlier event, in May 2011, involving the platform. Craig Services & Access Limited instructed a repair to the damaged section of the main boom but the repair had been incorrectly carried out and J M Access Solutions Ltd subsequently failed in their duty to carry out an adequate thorough examination of the platform.
Donald Craig was convicted of health and safety breaches. He was jailed for two years – the maximum penalty possible.
Hamilton based Craig Services and Access Limited was fined after being found guilty of three charges relating to the collapse, including failures in relation to its maintenance, and was fined a total of £61,000.
Another company, J M Access Solutions Ltd, was fined £30,000 for its failure to carry out a systematic and detailed thorough examination of the platform and its safety-critical parts.
Gary Aitken, Head of Health and Safety Division said: “This incident, which resulted in the death of Gary Currie and caused serious injury to Alexander Nisbet, could have been avoided had Donald Craig and Craig Services & Access Limited heeded advice and taken measures to maintain the platform in a safe condition.
“At the centre of this all was the decision to instruct this repair. It was a decision that left Gary Currie and Alexander Nisbet exposed to an unacceptable risk and was essentially an accident waiting to happen.
“An MEWP is a safety-critical piece of equipment and it was highly foreseeable that such a repair would risk the lives of those using the equipment.
“This incident has left family and friends devastated at the loss of a loved one. Hopefully this prosecution will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”
HSE Principal Inspector Graeme McMinn stated: “The death of Gary Currie was entirely preventable. Craig Services and Access Ltd and Donald Craig were advised by the manufacturer to replace the damaged boom. Instead, they chose a much cheaper repair that left the boom in an unsafe condition. Guidance in the British Standard “Safe Use of MEWPS” advises that repairs to any parts of the MEWP structure should be in accordance with the procedure specified by the manufacturer.
“At the time of the accident the MEWP had a catalogue of defects some of which were safety-critical demonstrating that Craig Services and Access Ltd did not have an adequate proactive maintenance and reactive repair system in place within the company. For a complex piece of equipment such as the MEWP, that system should have included daily pre-use checks, intermediate inspections and maintenance based on manufacturer recommendations and six monthly thorough examinations carried out by a competent person independent of the MEWP owner.
“The competence and diligence of a thorough examiner is vital as it is they who declare the MEWP safe to use. JM Access Solutions Ltd failed to carry out a diligent thorough examination and declared the MEWP safe to use. The British Standard provides guidance on what an examination should include following a major repair on a MEWP structure. Non-destructive testing and load testing should have been carried out and overload testing discussed with the manufacturer.
“This tragic accident should highlight the absolute duty for owners of MEWPS to maintain them to ensure continued safe operation.”