Last reviewed 16 September 2021

On 22 February 2017 at Chivas Brothers Limited’s bottling plant in Dumbarton, an engineer employed by Fire Protection Group (FPG) Ltd was trapped inside a vertical storage and retrieval unit.

The engineer suffered crushing injuries to his right side, including the chest wall, shoulder and upper leg and sustained a cut to the top of his head when an extractor device in the unit moved down on top of him and pinned him to the ground.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that FPG had failed to ensure that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment was carried out for the inspection of fire suppression systems located inside the storage and retrieval unit.

The company had not provided its employees with the relevant information, instruction or training in relation to machinery hazards and preventive measures that should have been taken, and that were necessary to control the risks arising from those hazards.

HSE also found that Chivas Brothers had failed to give the necessary safety information to both its own staff and to the FPG employees working on the units.

The two companies pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, etc 1974 and co-operated fully with the HSE investigation. They were both ordered to pay a £50,000 fine and have implemented new systems of working since the accident.

Alistair Duncan, head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “This was a foreseeable accident resulting in injuries that could have been avoided if an agreed safe system of work had been in place and all relevant safety information had been shared.”

This prosecution and the sentence should, he concluded, remind employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have serious consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.