Company fined £120,000 for worker’s death

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An Angus firm was today Wednesday fined £120,000 over the death of a worker killed when he became attached “like velcro” to a spinning pipe in a metal spraying booth.

Arbroath man Andy Fraser (26) died when he became attached to a pipe spinning at between 50 and 80 rpm inside an aluminium spray coating machine at Gemini Corrosion Services Ltd in Montrose.

He suffered multiple horrific injuries and died hours after the incident after being airlifted to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and undergoing emergency surgery.

The company provides specialist coating services to offshore oil companies, coating equipment such as drill pipes with molten aluminium.

Mr Fraser was operating a machine that took in lengthy metal pieces along a track before passing it across spray nozzles while the objects rotate.

Forfar Sheriff Court heard the piece being worked on had been treated beforehand giving it a surface texture “similar to coarse sandpaper”.

Fiscal depute Gavin Callaghan told Forfar Sheriff Court: “It would readily attach to fabrics such as the sweatshirt Mr Fraser was wearing under his overalls.

“It would attach in a similar way to velcro.

“The accident occurred at 3.15pm on September 17, 2014.

“A colleague passed the unit where Mr Fraser was operating the machine and realised something was wrong.

“The other worker found Mr Fraser attached to a pipe being sprayed.

“He activated the emergency stop button but the pipe continued spinning.

“He went out and shouted for assistance and another colleague came and was able to turn the machine off.

“Mr Fraser was unconscious and emergency services were called.

“The air ambulance arrived and at that point he went into cardiac arrest.

“He responded to CPR after being given blood and was taken to Ninewells Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but died at 2am the following day.”

HSE inspectors believe he had been attached to the spinning pipe for approximately two minutes before being found.

Mr Callaghan added: “No fixed or moving guarding had been fitted to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine.

“Gemini relied on the operator remaining at the control panel away from the dangerous parts.

“If guards had been fitted the accident could have been avoided and the death would not have occurred.”

Gemini Corrosion Services Ltd, headquartered at Albyn Place, Aberdeen, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

The date of the offence spanned from November 1 2005 to September 17 2014.

Defence advocate Barry Smith said: “Most importantly, may I say the company formally tenders its most sincere condolences to the family of Mr Fraser.

“There was a failure to guard against obvious risks from the machinery.”

Sheriff Pino di Emidio imposed a fine of £120,000 and gave them six months to pay in full.

He said: “It is plain that the requirement to guard dangerous parts of machinery was not met and had that been done that would have prevented the death.”

Speaking outside court Mr Fraser’s brother, Stuart, said he was satisfied with the fine handed down.

He said: “It was more than I expected.”