Inverness company fined after surveyor dies in explosion at work

A company has been fined after a surveyor died from injuries caused by an electrical explosion.

Christopher Wayne Earley, a director at CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd, was inspecting an electric panel while carrying out an asbestos survey when the explosion happened.

The father-of-four suffered burns to a third of his body – affecting his face, right arm, right side of his chest and left hand.

Three months later, he died aged 64 following multiple infections and sepsis complications brought on by his injuries.

A picture showing the remains of the end of the busbar following the electrical explosion (Health and Safety Executive/PA)
A picture showing the remains of the end of the busbar following the electrical explosion (Health and Safety Executive/PA)

Mr Earley had been carrying out the survey for Inverness-based company Global Energy Nigg Limited at its Shop 7 premises at Nigg Energy Park in the Cromarty Firth on December 10 2020.

The company was fined £80,000 at Tain Sheriff Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the switch room Mr Earley was surveying at the time of the incident was not in an appropriate condition.

This created a risk as the live switch panels did not have a warning label indicating they were energised with electricity running through them.

There was no warning of electrical danger at the internal doorway between Shop 7 and the switch room – the internal door itself was missing.

HSE said this failure to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition was the underlying cause of the incident.

And that the primary duty of care belonged to Global Energy Nigg Limited.

HSE inspector Niall Miller said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

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