Salmon farm firm fined £800,000 after employee drowned

By investigative reporter Billy Briggs in The Ferret

A salmon farming company has been fined £800,000 after an employee was crushed and drowned when he fell into the water during a boat transfer.

Mowi Scotland Limited pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches yesterday at Inverness Sheriff Court.

The court heard that Clive Hendry, 58, plunged into the water from a ladder while trying to move between a pair of vessels on February 18, 2020, at Ardintoul Point, in Loch Alsh.

Mr Hendry — the assistant manager at Ardintoul — was severely injured after being crushed, and despite a fellow worker grabbing his life jacket, he slipped out of it and into the water. He was pulled from the water but could not be revived.

An investigation into Mr Hendry’s death by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found Mowi had “failed to make a suitable risk assessment, maintain systems of work and failed to provide employees with the necessary supervision”.

His partner of 28 years, Catriona Lockhart, walked out of the court as Mowi Scotland’s lawyers gave their submissions.

She spoke to the BBC outside and said: “I am just devastated to have to relive it again and just sit and hear all the failings again.  The fine was never ever relevant – there is never a decent fine. There are no winners here, just losers.  Myself and Clive’s family and friends are heartbroken about the loss of him. You can never put a pound sign on anybody’s life.”

Ms Lockhart, who is also pursuing a civil case, said she would continue to campaign for improved safety on fish farms.

Speaking after sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service, said: “Clive Hendry was much loved by his partner and a well-liked and respected man by friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

“Mowi Scotland Limited accepted liability and the Crown accepted their guilty plea to the contraventions of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Since this incident the company has introduced new risk assessments and has put into practice safe systems of work. “

Carroll added: “Had these been in place at the time then Mr Hendry’s transfer from the Beinn na Cailleach to the Sea Cap would have taken place without incident and he would be alive today.

“Hopefully this incident should prompt other employers to consider their duties and that failing to keep their employees safe can have fatal consequences for which they will be held accountable.”

A Mowi spokesperson said: “We continue to be devastated by the death of our colleague and friend, Clive Hendry, and our thoughts are with Clive’s family.

“Immediately following the fatality, our company implemented the recommendations of the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. We acknowledge the court’s ruling.”

Pictures: A typical salmon farm operation taking place off the West Coast of Scotland.

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