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An investigation into a fatal accident at Ardintoul fish farm on Loch Alsh last year revealed that owner, Mowi (Scotland) Ltd, did not have an effective marine safety management system in place.
The enquiry by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) came after the death of assistant fish farm manager, Clive Hendry, in February of 2020.
Mr Hendry, 58, drowned after he was crushed between a boat and a feed barge after falling from the barge’s access ladder into the water during a boat transfer.
Mr Hendry, from Dornie, was attempting to climb onto the barge from the workboat Beinn Na Caillich.
After he was crushed between the boat and the barge, a technician on the barge spotted Mr Hendry hanging from the ladder and grabbed hold of the strap at the back of his lifejacket.
Mr Hendry told the technician he could not use or feel his legs, according to the MAIB report.
Shortly after, Mr Hendry lost his grip on the ladder and slipped out of his oilskin jacket and lifejacket, which was not fastened at the crotch straps, and fell into the sea. The technician was left holding the items at the top of the ladder.
Mr Hendry’s work colleagues managed to get him out of the sea but, despite their determined efforts and those of the emergency services, he died.
The report said Mr Hendry had worked in the fish farming industry for more than 20 years and was regarded as a hard-working member of his team who was respected for his experience.
The MAIB investigation concluded that the conduct of the boat transfer had not been
properly planned or briefed, and was not adequately controlled. A risk assessment
for the transfer of personnel to and from the fish farm installations had not been
carried out and a documented safe system of work had not been produced.
Recommendations were made to the vessel and Mowi (Scotland) Ltd, to apply The Workboat Code Edition 2 to its fleet and implement a safety management system that complies with the principles of the International Safety Management Code.
A recommendation to ensure that appropriate marine expertise is present or
provided to the senior management team to oversee the safety of its vessels and
marine operations was also made to the owner.
A spokesperson for MOWI told us: ‘Clive had been a truly valued member of our team for 12 years and we all continue to be deeply affected by his death. Our sympathies go to Clive’s family, friends and colleagues.
‘As detailed in the MAIB accident report, preventative actions were immediately implemented and we are now reviewing the learnings from this report that include two recommendations made by the MAIB.’
The MAIB report notes that safety recommendations do not create a presumption of blame or liability.
Mr Hendry’s partner, Catriona Lockhart described him as a ‘fun loving, generous and kind guy, who would do anything to help anybody’. He loved his job, fishing and animals.
Ms Lockhart told us she had been left ‘devastated’ by her partner’s death, adding: ‘My life has been destroyed by the events on the 18th February, 2020 – my partner Clive, of 28 years, loved life and for him to walk out the door of our home and never to come home and to see him dead in the hospital is the most heart-breaking, life changing event.’