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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Mr Alexander Stewart [2010] FAI 52


Having heard evidence and submissions, the Sheriff found that in terms of section 6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Death Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976 that Mr Alexander Stewart, whose date of birth was 2nd November 1937, had died at 13.19 hours on 1st August 2008 within Belford Hospital, Fort William. The cause of death was: (a) traumatic disruption of the liver; and (b) compression injury by a mechanical shovel. The deceased's injuries were suffered by him in the course of his employment with Lorne Developments Limited trading as Lochaber Aggregates, Ben Nevis Industrial Estate, Fort William.

The court heard from employees who gave evidence to the effect that the deceased had joined another employee on top of a screening plant and was stepping back on to the hydraulic bucket lift which he had used to ascend the structure, when he was tipped against it and caught between the two structures.

In terms of section 6(1)(c) of the Act, the Sheriff found that there were a number of reasonable precautions whereby the death of Mr Stewart might have been avoided. These were:

(a) That the bucket/loading shovel should not have been used for lifting personnel.
(b) That the operator of the bucket lift should not have leaned out the right hand side door of the vehicle.
(c) That the operator having decided to lean out of the right hand side door should have used the hydraulic lock switch in the cab thus preventing any non intentional movement of the hydraulic arm and bucket/loading shove.
(d) That the bucket/loading shovel should not have been in use without a working parking brake.
(e)That Alexander Stewart ought not to have been on top of the screening plant.

Moreover, in terms of section 6(1)(d) of the Act, the Sheriff found that the defects in systems of working which contributed to the death or any accident resulting in the death were as follows: (a) The vehicle should not have been used to lift the screening plant. It was not intended for lifting operations. It did not have an overload warning device or check valves fitted. (b) A proper assessment of the weight of the screening plant to be lifted and the load capabilities of the vehicle should have been carried out. (c) Had such an assessment been carried out it would have been ascertained that an excavator intended for and suitable for this type of lifting operation or a mobile crane should have been used. (d) A ladder or mobile elevated work platform should have been used to gain access to the top of the screening plant.