Distributor fined £40,000 over worker’s death

Elgin-based catering equipment supplier and servicer Moray Catering Equipment has been fined £40,000 over the death of one of its employees.

On 23 April, Elgin Sheriff Court heard how Moray’s electrician, Neil Grant, was electrocuted by a faulty dishwasher he was trying to fix at Cafe Ecosse in Elgin on 20 July 2009.

Local newspaper, the Aberdeen Press and Journal, reported from the court proceedings, detailing that Grant, who was 48, had left the machine turned on and was putting it through a wash cycle while he examined the wiring.

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The former RAF electrician was crouched in front of the dishwasher when sparks started to fly from it. A fellow worker saw him suffer an electric shock and paramedics were called. They found him collapsed on the floor of the premises with no vital signs and he was pronounced dead in hospital.

Moray Catering Equipment admitted failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the electrician. The court was told that an investigation by police and Moray Council, and a Health and Safety Executive report by specialist electrical inspector John Madden, had identified failures by Moray to adequately assess the risks to its employees when carrying out maintenance work and in particular live working.

The report also found the company had failed to ensure sufficient information, training and supervision of its employees, while risk assessments were too generic and relied on the person doing the job knowing about the safety aspects.

Representing Moray, advocate Barry Smith said the company’s founder and director Graham Mutch had instructed him to offer “the sincere condolences of himself, his wife and fellow director, Carol, and indeed all the people involved in this small company to the family of Mr Grant” who were present in court.

Smith said the firm had never had a “loss of time accident” in its 28-year history, and Mutch was satisfied that Grant was “necessarily qualified” when he hired him in 2000.

He added: “This company did have risk assessment policies in place – all but one of which they now realise were insufficient.”

Sentencing, Sheriff Susan Raeburn said: “It is a tragic case, and the court extends its condolences to Mr Grant’s family, friends and colleagues.

“I have conducted the balancing exercises and reached the view that the appropriate starting position is the sum of £60,000.”

The sum was reduced by a third to £40,000 due to the fact that Moray pleaded guilty to an amended charge, fully co-operated with investigations, made efforts to update its procedures and had no previous convictions for health and safety offences.

Catering Insight contacted Moray, but the firm did not wish to comment at this time.

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