Site security guard froze to death on Scottish windfarm job

Grant Prior 3 weeks ago
Share

Contractor Farrans and a security specialist have been fined a total of £868,800 after a site guard froze to death on a remote windfarm job in Ayrshire.

Ayr Sheriff Court heard that just after midnight on 22 January 2018, Ronald (Ronnie) Alexander, a 74-year-old security guard employed by Corporate Service Management Limited, was found by Police Scotland’s Mountain Rescue Team at Afton Windfarm, near New Cumnock.

He was found lying face down and hypothermic, in deep snow and died later that day having never regained consciousness.

Corporate Service Management Limited was contracted by Northstone (NI) Limited, who trade as Farrans, to provide security for the site.

Following a site visit by the managing director and operations director of Corporate Service Management, it was agreed that two guards would be required because it was known that mobile phone signals offsite were very poor.

Around lunchtime on 21 January, as forecast, the weather deteriorated resulting in deep drifts on the road to the site from New Cumnock, and the road between the gatehouse where Alexander worked and the site compound where his colleague was stationed.

Although mobile phone communications were known to be poor and inconsistent at the site there was no landline. Two-way radios were available, but these could only be used for the guards to speak with each other and not offsite.

An HSE investigation found that when preparing their emergency weather plan, Northstone (NI) Ltd had failed to include those times when nobody from the company would be present at the site.

The company also failed to ensure there was a back-up generator at either of the guard’s locations to ensure that their welfare area would have heating and lighting should the main generator fail, despite this having occurred on several occasions previously.

Northstone (NI) Ltd did not ensure that Alexander or his colleague had a reliable means of calling for help.

At around 5pm, Alexander’s colleague managed to obtain a signal on his mobile phone and reported to Corporate Service Management’s control room that not only had the generator failed, but that the only means of transporting the men offsite, a 4×4 vehicle, had become trapped in the deep snow at the site compound.

Despite this, Corporate Service Management did not call the emergency services until after 9pm.

Corporate Service Management’s emergency plan relied on there being effective communication between the guards and their control room, however they failed to provide this or to make sure that Northstone (NI) Ltd had provided this at the site.

Northstone (NI) Limited of Belfast pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £768,000.

Corporate Service Management Limited of Glasgow also pleaded guilty and was fined £100,800.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gerard Muir said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided had either company ensured that a suitable assessment had been made of the risk to those working at the site in poor weather, that suitable and sufficient means had been provided for the guards to communicate offsite, and that back-up generators had been provided, particularly when they knew how often the main generator had failed.

“By simply carrying out these correct control measures and ensuring safe working practices at this site, this tragic event could have been avoided.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Northstone (NI) Limited said in a statement: “Northstone accepts that on this occasion at Afton Windfarm we did not meet the high health and safety standards that we seek to achieve to protect our employees, customers, clients, subcontractors and communities.”

“We deeply regret that this resulted in the death of Mr Ronald Alexander. Our thoughts and sincerest sympathies remain with his family and friends.

“We took immediate action on the Afton Windfarm project to prevent a re-occurrence. As part of our internal investigation and the subsequent findings of this investigation we have reviewed and improved our risk control processes across the business.”

Latest news

SMEs dominate £650m northern housing upkeep framework

37 firms picked for En Procure social housing upkeep deal
3 hours ago

Government plan to ban poorly performing firms advances

Firms with a track record of poor delivery, fraud or corruption will be blocked from winning public contracts
11 hours ago

Construction output shows fastest rise in four months

Commercial sector leads the way as buyers report strong industry rebound in November
15 hours ago

Energy prices to drive second wave of materials cost hikes

Arcadis predicts further brick, glass, cement and concrete price hikes in 2022
18 hours ago

Go-ahead for £180m Milton Keynes tower scheme

Work set to start next year on central Milton Keynes landmark scheme
18 hours ago

Fit-out firm BW forecasts return to growth next year

South east contractor predicts workload recovery next year
17 hours ago

Builder jailed after demolishing wall on colleague

Court imposes prison sentence for gross negligence manslaughter
18 hours ago

Union officials face new probe into blacklist collusion

Unite gathering evidence for QC-led inquiry
18 hours ago

University to offer courses in concrete road repairs

New generation needed as 60% of concrete specialists set to retire in next ten years
17 hours ago

HS2 launches first Midlands TBM

BBV launches Dorothy on first one-mile long bore in Warwickshire
4 days ago

Construction slavery gang busted – five convicted

Romanian victims were promised £50 a day to work on site but were saddled with false debts
5 days ago

New chief named for O’Connor Utilities group

Michael Hughes was formely chief financial officer at Issa brothers owned EG Group
4 days ago

Multiplex aims for woman-led teams at one in 10 projects

Social equity manifesto to tackle lack of female leadership, excessive hours and slow payments
4 days ago

Trio shortlisted for third £115m A9 dualling project

Balfour, Graham and Wills Bros in chase for 9.6km Tomatin to Moy dualling
4 days ago

Plan for £2bn Edinburgh West Town

7,000 homes plan for 200-acre site in West Edinburgh
4 days ago

Morgan Sindall starts £31m Leeds resi scheme

Work starts on 16-storey stepped Springwell Gardens apartment block
5 days ago

Race starts for £200m M5 Junction 10 Improvements

Cheltenham junction upgrade will see new roundabout built above the motorway
5 days ago

New boss at Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick

Will Smith joins from consultant Cummins
5 days ago

Contractors battle Storm Arwen to replace rail bridge

BAM Nuttall, Atkins WSP Joint Venture successfully completes marathon 78-hour installation
5 days ago

Bids called for £835m South London council estate upgrade

London Borough of Southwark is on the hunt for four firms to deliver housing estate upgrades
5 days ago

Willmott Dixon to build £21m net zero Preston school

Tarleton Academy will be net zero in operation
5 days ago

Veteran pair leave Currie & Brown

End of an era as David Broomer and Euan McEwan retire
5 days ago

Balfour Beatty launches neurodiverse site cabins

Cabins adapted for visually impaired and light-sensitive builders will become standard on Balfour sites
6 days ago

26 firms win £7bn schools framework – full list

B&K, Willmott Dixon, BAM, Kier and Wates chalk up both northern and southern major project lots
6 days ago

French specialist Matière to install HS2 cut and cover tunnels

Stanton Precast wins pre-cast segment deal for 'green tunnels'
6 days ago

Scottish house builder buys rival for £56m

Springfield buys Tulloch Homes to expand presence in the Highlands
6 days ago

Wates wins contract for underground houses

Construction to start next year on earth sheltered homes in Battle, East Sussex
6 days ago

VAT dodging electrician banned for five years

Company director barred after Insolvency Service probe
6 days ago

£11m in extra brownfield grants awarded – list

Twenty-three sites receive brownfield funding in second tranche of grants
7 days ago

GMI lands £30m helicopter logistic hub

Building work starts on Yeovil hub for manufacturer Leonardo
7 days ago

Contractor services