Scots fish farm worker's death was 'avoidable' following drowning in horror industrial accident

The death of a Scots fish farm worker who tragically drowned in a horror industrial accident could have been "avoided", a Fatal Accident Inquiry has ruled.

Clive Hendry, 58, was crushed between a boat and a floating pontoon before slipping into the water during a “touch and go” transfer at salmon giant Mowi’s Ardintoul site in the North West Highlands in February 2020.

The company was fined £800,000 last year after being found to have breached health and safety laws. Now, a FAI into Clive's death has concluded there were a multitude of failures that led to his death in a damning report by Sheriff Gary Aitken.

Clive, from Dornie, Rossshire, worked for Mowi for 12 years before his death at Ardintoul fish farm in nearby Loch Alsh. He stepped through an open gate on the Beinn na Caillich boat to a ladder on the feeding barge in a practice known as a touch and go transfer. While on the ladder, he was crushed by the boat and slipped into the water and drowned.

Sheriff Aitken stated: "There are precautions which could reasonably have been taken that might realistically have resulted in the death, or accident resulting in the death, being avoided.

"It is very clear from the evidence, that there were significant failings in this case by the company.

"If the operation had been properly risk assessed in advance and a safe system of work mandated, as has now been done, this accident should not have happened."

Beinn na Cailleach was the vessel involved in the fatal incident -Credit:COPFS
Beinn na Cailleach was the vessel involved in the fatal incident -Credit:COPFS

He added: "I express my condolences to the family and friends of Mr Hendry. He was clearly very well thought of and respected by his colleagues and I have no doubt that he is still sorely missed by all who knew him."

Earlier this year, our sister title the Sunday Mail, reported how they'd seen evidence that in the five years leading up to Clive’s death there had been 18 similar incidents, including eight crushing accidents at Mowi. The details are contained in a Marine Accident Investigation (MAIB) Branch report into Clive’s death.

At Inverness Sheriff Court, Mowi admitted failing to carry out proper risk assessments and safety training when they were fined in May 2023.

Clive's widow has had a four-year fight for justice on her hands and is also separately suing Mowi in a civil case.

She previously said: "Clive was my soulmate, I will never get over losing him. It is unbelievable to me that there could have been 18 previous incidents, including eight where people were crushed in some way but nothing appears to have been done to stop it happening again.

"There will be another death, I am convinced of that, unless Mowi properly learns lessons.”

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on fatalities investigations for Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service said: “We note and welcome the Sheriff’s determination.

“The Procurator Fiscal ensured that the full facts and circumstances of Mr Hendry’s death were led in evidence at the mandatory Fatal Accident Inquiry.

“The Determination has been provided to Mr Hendry’s family and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

Mowi has been contacted for comment.

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