Firm fined over Tay Rail Bridge death
An industrial access company has been fined £200,000 after a rail bridge worker was gassed to death as a result of multiple safety failings.
David Rodger, of Cowdenbeath, Fife, died on the Tay Rail Bridge while he was working on the stripping and repainting of the bridge support piers.
The company had decided he was not working in a "confined space".
Xervon Palmers Ltd - known at the time as Thyssenkripp Palmers Ltd - admitted health and safety breaches.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard that the 44-year-old was overcome with fumes after not being given the correct protective clothing or equipment. Proper ventilation or extraction equipment was also not in place.
Mr Rodger was just wearing a paper dust mask for protection, rather than full breathing apparatus, when he died in January 2010.
The court was also told that there was no monitoring of oxygen levels in the area, as well as inadequate supervision and a lack of rescue facilities in the event of an accident.
Lying face down
Fiscal depute Gavin Callahan said a post-mortem examination had determined Mr Rodger's cause of death as being toluene toxicity - meaning he had inhaled significant quantities of the chemical, which can cause severe neurological harm.
Mr Rodger had been working on pier 44 of the bridge in the early hours of the morning before he died. His colleagues became concerned when he did not return after his shift.
Mr Callahan said: "They went to the encapsulation around pier 44 and climbed down to the lower levels where they saw a pair of boots protruding from a pile of grit.
"They found him lying face down in the grit with the spray gun lying beside him.
"Mr Rodger was turned over and his face was blue. He was wearing a paper dust mask and there was blast primer on his face and the mask."
Paramedics were called, but they could not save him.
Xervon Palmers Ltd, based in Belvedere, Kent, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge under the Health and Safety At Work Act committed between May 1 2009 and January 28 2010 at the Tay Rail Bridge.
Peter Gray QC, defending, said: "It is entirely accepted that this was a fundamental failure and it went to a senior level.
He added: "There had been careful consideration and discussion involving a number of people with health and safety experience who ultimately made an error.
"That is of profound regret and the company wish me to make known their most sincere sympathies to the family of Mr Rodger."
Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC fined the firm £200,000 - reduced from POUNDS 300,000 for their early guilty plea.