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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Lewis MacDonald [2011] FAI 6


In terms of section 6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976, the Sheriff found that Lewis MacDonald died at approximately 8.50am on 28th November 2008, as a result of a fall from the deck of the Ocean Princess drilling rig, berthed in Invergordon.

In terms of section 6(1)(b), the cause of death was the deceased crossing a solid barrier on to a badly corroded section of grating which could not bear his weight, causing him to fall approximately 100 feet through the deck to the sea below, striking a structural cross-member of the rig during his fall. The deceased sustained extensive serious injuries to his head, chest and abdomen, resulting in instant death.

On the date of death, the deceased was employed as a scaffolder by MacDonald Scaffolding Services Limited, who were contracted to carry out scaffolding works on the rig by Diamond Offshore Drilling (U.K.) Limited. Refurbishment and maintenance work required the movement of a metal workshop container, which exposed an area of corroded grating. A hung scaffold was erected under the exposed area on 27th November 2008. On 28th November, the scaffolding was extended to barrier off the whole exposed area. Upon inspection of the scaffolding, the foreman scaffolder directed his squad to loosen horizontal handrails which were protruding into the landward walkway and to slide them seawards. The deceased loosened the seaward couplings and climbed over the top handrail, landing on the uncovered area of exposed grating. The grating collapsed under his weight, causing his fall.

Having heard evidence from other scaffolders including the foreman, as well as an inspector with Health and Safety Executive, the Sheriff found that the deceased had died as a result of a tragic accident. The accident was occasioned by the unexplained actions of the deceased, which the Sheriff considered were unforeseeable in all the circumstances. The Sheriff did not consider that either MacDonald Scaffolding Services or Diamond Offshore Drilling should have taken any other precautions to avoid an accident and did not make any findings in terms of section 6(1)(c), (d) or (e).