A Scottish firm has received a six-figure fine over the industrial accident which led to a 44-year-old bridge construction worker inhaling a fatal quantity of gas. It was concluded that his death was attributable to toluene toxicity, which caused irreparable neurological damage.
During a hearing at Dundee Sheriff Court, those present heard how the worker was made unconscious by gas fumes and was later found by co-workers.
Numerous health and safety failings led to the industrial accident. For example, managers had incorrectly decided that because the area where the work was being carried out did not constitute a confined space there was no need to provide suitable personal protective equipment or ventilation.
Furthermore, employers failed to provide adequate oxygen levels, adequate supervision or to ensure a suitable rescue plan in the event of an accident.
The firm concerned, Xervon Palmers Ltd, conceded that its health and safety oversights led to the fatal industrial accident.
The case goes to demonstrate that even workers who work outdoors are at risk of inhaling noxious fumes, particularly when they work for extended periods in an area where residual levels of toxicity may accumulate.
The defending QC accepted that the fatal industrial accident was caused by a "fundamental failure" by managers who "ultimately made an error".
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