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Firms fined pounds 1.2m over worker's death; North man killed on oil support vessel.

Byline: Paul James Chief Reporter

FINES of pounds 1.2m were handed out yesterday to two companies over an accident on board a North Sea support vessel which killed one oil worker and injured another.

Matthew Grey, a pipefitter from Darlington, and Norman Jackson, from North Shields, were struck by falling steel clamps on the Bleo Holm floating production, storage and offtake installation when a lifting operation went wrong on January 6 last year.

Mr Grey 59, was killed while working in the cargo tanks of the vessel, which was 72 miles north east of Aberdeen, and Mr Jackson was flown to hospital with injuries to his arm.

Talisman Energy UK Ltd and contractors Aker Kvaerner Offshore Partner Ltd, for whom the men worked, were yesterday fined pounds 600,000 each after admitting breaching health and safety rules.

Last night, Mr Jackson, 59, who lives in Robert Westall Way, said: "I'm delighted by the news.

"You don't go to work thinking you might get killed and it took a long time to get over the accident. I suffered a serious injury to my arm and was off for almost a year, but it was more than just the physical wounds."

The father-of-three added: "I was with Matthew for 30 minutes after the accident and although I knew First Aid I couldn't stop the bleeding as he had internal injuries. It was horrible. The other lad who was with us was also badly shaken up as he was even closer to Matthew."

Following yesterday's case at Aberdeen Sheriff's Court, Health and Safety Executive principal inspector Colin Richards said: "This tragic incident should remind everyone in the offshore industry and elsewhere that lifting operations are hazardous and must be carried out in a safe manner."

When the accident happened, a pneumatic hoist was being used to lift various items out of the tank through a small hatch at main deck level.

Two steel beam clamps weighing 21.5kg were among items which fell from the load and struck the men below. Last night, Rod Buchan, Aker Solutions managing director in Aberdeen, said: "First and foremost we deeply regret that this incident occurred and our thoughts and sympathy remain with the family and friends of MrGrey.

"We worked closely with Talisman on a detailed investigation into this tragic event. We also initiated an extensive incident analysis and evaluation of our procedures and systems of work.

"These exercises highlighted areas for improvement in key operational aspects related to lifting work and, as a result, significant changes have been made to how we support and conduct these operations."

Nick Walker, senior vice president of Talisman Energy (UK) Limited, said: "We take full responsibility for this tragedy. We are truly sorry that it happened and again express our deep regret and sympathy to the family of Mr Grey.

"Talisman launched a wide-ranging investigation following this tragic event. We enlisted the assistance of independent experts and extended that investigation to include other elements of the company's safety management system.

"The results of that investigation showed we were wanting in some key areas of our operations. We have made meaningful changes in all these areas.

"I sincerely hope our subsequent actions, alongside our investigation and public acknowledgment of our guilt, offer Mr Grey's family some comfort as they continue to rebuild their lives."

The fines for both companies were discounted by 25% as a result of their guilty pleas.


INJURED Norman Jackson was hurt in the accident that killed his colleague.; ACCIDENT SCENE The Bleo Holm offloading vessel.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2008
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