Site security guard froze to death on Scottish windfarm job

Grant Prior 3 years 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

Early bond release key to averting industry surety crisis

Contractors must put pressure on clients to release bonds promptly
3 days ago

Over 1000 building safety cladding retrofits completed

25% of safety retrofits finished seven years after Grenfell disaster
3 days ago

Steel import delays make Rangers miss kick-off

Construction work at Ibrox will not be finished by start of next season
3 days ago

Lidl looking for new contractors for store building plans

Sign up for events in Newcastle, Glasgow, Birmingham and Southampton
3 days ago

Utility firm GTC revs up for ground source heat pump era

Contractor and heat pump maker strikes ground-breaking deal
3 days ago

Amey switches kit supplier to Speedy from HSS

New plant and equipment hire deal worth £25m a year
3 days ago

Clients under spotlight after bond bombshell

Contractors call for action to avoid project delays
4 days ago

M&E specialist Lorne Stewart falls into the red

Parent group suffers £2.8m loss in face of cost inflation and insolvencies
4 days ago

Four men rushed to hospital after site accident

Eye-witnesses report a wall was knocked over on Edinburgh site
4 days ago

World’s tallest scissor lift set for UK sites

Hire Safe Solutions partners with Dingli to supply lift with working height of 37 metres
4 days ago

Barhale wins £36m East London sewer remediation

Northern Outfall Sewer in West Ham runs above railway lines in the city
4 days ago

Weston Homes thumbs-up for £220m Essex homes scheme

Colchester 600-home Viridis scheme gains outline consent
4 days ago

Balfour seals £192m deal for trio of Scottish substations

Work to start this summer to enhance electrical transmission in Argyll
5 days ago

Construction bond bombshell as major player quits market

QBE currently provides cover for 20 of the industry's 30 biggest contractors
5 days ago

United Utilities names another 18 winners for £2.7bn water spend

Water giant cuts out large management contractors in latest spending round
5 days ago

Green light for £130m Dundee Eden project

Former gasholder site to be transformed into green house
5 days ago

Four tower scheme in Glasgow gets green light

Go-ahead for major mixed-use scheme at Central Quay
5 days ago

‘Green collar’ construction workers earning £134,000

Cost consultant T&T says insulation and heat pump trades earning £70 an hour in London
5 days ago

£65m Trafford Waters resi blocks approved

X1 Developments plans over 200 homes in 13- and 8-storey blocks
5 days ago

Over 100 firms win £1.5bn ICN housing framework

Great Places Housing Group names key partners for new homes programme
6 days ago

Steelwork firm went down owing £4.5m to suppliers

Subcontractors left holding unpaid invoices from SH Structures
6 days ago

Scottish civils firm to buy stake in piling specialist

Advance Construction in talks for 25% stake in Northern Piling Ltd
6 days ago

RSK secures £500m for fresh acquisitions spree

Acquisitive group aims to buy another 200 businesses by 2030
6 days ago

Beal Homes gets green light for £105m Humber scheme

Work to start on more than 500 homes in North East Lincolnshire
6 days ago

RED wins £20m East London office refurb

Grade II listed Victorian building to be upgraded to Cat A offices
6 days ago

Employee-owned Neilcott staff share £250,000 payout

Employee-owned building contractor sales jump 38% to £139m
7 days ago

Geoffrey Osborne supply chain hit for £26m

More than 500 suppliers and subcontractors left holding unpaid bills
1 week ago

Race for £800m South West Wales framework

Up to 16 firms face fight to renew spots on regional contractors framework
7 days ago

SME contractors agree 4% pay rise for site workers

Workers will also get an extra day of holiday
1 week ago

South East expansion paying off for Meldrum Group

Turnover up to £55m as North East based contractor expands national coverage
7 days ago

Contractor services