Wick Sheriff Court heard how Hugh Simpson Ltd was contracted to unload Deugro Danmark ships once they had docked at Wick Harbour. Hugh Simpson provided its own equipment for unloading and was in overall charge of the lifting operations. It subcontracted JGC Engineering & Technical Services to remove sea fastenings from the ships’ holds.
On 7th January 2013, JGC employee Brian Reid was lowered into the hold in a man riding basket suspended from a crane. An employee of Hugh Simpson in charge of lifting operations that day was on the deck of the ship to communicate with both Mr Reid and the crane operator. Neither the basket nor Mr Reid was visible to the crane operator when in the hold of the ship, so he had to rely on communications from the deck.
Mr Reid cut one of the sea fastenings and signalled by hand for the basket to be moved to reach the other fastening. As he began working on it, the basket tipped upside down, spilling him onto the hold floor. Mr Reid sustained multiple complex fractures to his face and nose and fractured his left hand.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the operational plans and risk assessment prepared by Hugh Simpson did not include lifting people in a basket attached to a mobile crane. The man riding basket was not suitable to be used with a crane and should only have been used with a fork lift truck.
Hugh Simpson (Contractors) Limited, of The Harbour, Wick, Caithness pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £26,000.