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Property company fined £80,000 for failings that led to man’s death

An Inverness based property company has been fined £80,000 after a 64-year-old asbestos surveyor died following an electrical explosion.

Global Energy Nigg Limited pled guilty to a health and safety breach committed on 10 December 2020 at Tain Sheriff Court on 18 January 2023. 

The court heard that on 10 December Christopher Wayne Earley, director of CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd, was carrying out a survey on behalf of Global Energy Nigg Limited at Nigg Energy Park (also known as The Port of Nigg), in the Cromarty Firth. 

During the survey of a large disused fabrication workshop Mr Earley entered an electrical switch room which did not appear to be operational.  

He opened an electrical cabinet and there was a flash caused by an electrical flashover (a high current electrical discharge through an air gap between conductors).  

Mr Earley suffered significant burns and died in hospital on 10 March 2021. 

The HSE investigation found that Global Energy Nigg Limited had failed to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition. There was no internal door and no visual warning of electrical danger at the doorway. 

Live switch panels did not carry any suitable warning signs or labelling, and redundant panels were also not marked. 

Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: 

“Christopher Wayne Earley lost his life in circumstances which were foreseeable and entirely avoidable. 

“By failing to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition Global Energy Nigg Limited put someone not employed by them at unacceptable risk. 

“This prosecution should remind duty holders that failing to take reasonable health and safety measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.”