Port Operator Crew Fatalities (UK – Scotland)

23 September 2014: in the Edinburgh High Court, Clydeport Operations Limited, owned by Peel Ports Limited, admitted breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, that had resulted in the death of three tug boat crew members.

The company accepted that between 29 December 2000 and 19 December 2007 there had been a systemic failure in risk assessments and safe systems of work. The company was fined £650,000.

The tug operator Svitzer Marine Limited had previously admitted to proximate cause of the deaths.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) took over the maritime element of the investigation from Strathclyde Police, once it was determined that the deaths were not suspicious. However, the investigation remained under the control of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The MCA found that there were also shortcomings in the application of the Port Marine Safety code in that neither the company secretary, nor the operations/human resources director, received training to adequately fulfil their role as the designated person with responsibility to ensure health and safety.

Sentencing at the High Court in Edinburgh on 29 September the judge, Lord Kinclaven, said:

The charges are severally and jointly very serious and extended for a long period of time, from 2000 to 2007.

Captain Jeremy Smart, Head of Enforcement at the MCA, said:

This was a tragic event and the MCA would like to express its sincere condolences to the families involved, who have endured a very difficult number of years. The investigation highlighted some very serious shortcomings in Clydeport Operations Limited’s safety management.

The MCA Press Release is here.

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