An oil and gas company has been fined £535,000 after a worker sustained life-changing injuries following the uncontrolled collapse of a crane.
Greig Philip Harwood and John Divers, employees of Enermech Limited, were injured onboard Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited’s Fulmer Alpha North Sea oil platform on 11 September 2017.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that the 13-tonne, 45-metre-long crane boom fell to the deck without warning, with flying parts hitting both men.
Mr Harwood suffered a fractured jaw and lacerations to his chest. He had his jaw wired together and three titanium plates fitted. He could not eat solid food for around four months.
He also suffered psychological damage and was diagnosed with anxiety, trauma and depression as a result of this trauma and has stopped working in the offshore industry.
He continues to have physical symptoms where he cannot open his mouth fully and has no feeling in his lower jaw due to nerve damage.
John Divers also suffered physiologically and required counselling sessions. He could not face working offshore for 12 months.
By less than half a metre, the crane boom missed a high-pressure flare line, a fuel gas line and the main oil line. If any of these had been hit it could have resulted in a serious hydrocarbon release.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) uncovered that the company responsible had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of the work.
Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited of Holburn Street, Aberdeen pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were subsequently fined £535,000.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Dr Stephen Hargreaves said: “Greig Harwood and John Divers are lucky to be alive.
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out Suitable control measures and safe working practices.
“A North Sea Oil Platform is a hazardous environment, and it was again pure luck that the crane boom, which crashed to the deck, narrowly missed high-pressure gas and oil processing equipment.
“This incident could have been avoided had the company properly planned and risk assessed the work and adequately maintained their cranes.”
“It is very disappointing that we are seeing failings of this nature bringing those working on North Sea Installations perilously close to disaster.”
A spokesperson for Repsol Sinopec said: “We can confirm we were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) following the uncontrolled collapse of the west crane boom on the Repsol Sinopec-operated Fulmar Alpha installation on 11 September 2017, and admitted to the breaches at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 25th August 2023.
“We deeply regret the incident that occurred and the distress it caused the injured workers’ and their families. A thorough investigation was carried out by the HSE to establish the facts of the incident. We accepted responsibility at the earliest opportunity and co-operated fully with HSE’s investigation.”