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Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Deaths of Brian French and Colin William Ferguson, Sheriff Norman McFadyen, Ayr Sheriff Court, 24th June 2011


In terms of s.6(1)(a) of the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act 1976 the sheriff found that Brian French (DOB 21.06.68) and Colin William Ferguson (DOB 27.11.69) died at the Pennyvenie Opencast Coal Mine Site near Dalmellington on 26 February 2007 at around 1pm. In terms of s.6(1)(b) Brian French's death was caused by multiple injuries. Colin William Ferguson's death was caused by asphyxia due to a crush injury to the chest. Both deaths were caused by an accident at work. Formal determinations were made under s.6(1)(c), (d) and (e).

At the time of the accident the deceased were working in the course of their employment with Castlebridge Plant Limited. The accident occurred when another worker, Alan Shannon, turned his dump truck into a stationary Land Rover occupied by Brian French and Colin Ferguson, killing them both. The Land Rover was parked in the dump truck's blind spot.
In terms of section 6(1)(c) the sheriff identified a number of reasonable precautions whereby the deaths might have been avoided. Radios could have been made available and the deceased could have used them to alert others to their presence. Alan Shannon could have been more alert and reversed or stopped when the collision occurred. Scottish coal could have improved their procedures concerning the driving of light vehicles and dump trucks. Buggy whips could have been installed on light vehicles and cameras on trucks to improve their visibility. A system of segregation between large and small vehicles could have been implemented.
In terms of s.6(1)(d) there were several defects in systems of work which contributed to the deaths. These concerned: communications systems (particularly radio availability); visibility aids for vehicles; segregation of large and small vehicles; traffic management; operational procedures for small vehicles and trucks; and training of drivers.
In terms of Section 6(1)(e) of the 1976 Act there were a number of other factors which were relevant to the circumstances of the deaths. Drivers should have been made aware of the consequences of reading newspapers in their cabs. Better training should be provided by Scottish Coal across the industry. Health and Safety Inspectors should press home the dangers of working with large machinery and make enquiry about radio usage and traffic management as part of their inspections. Consideration should be given to updating the Quarries Regulations Approved Code of Practice. The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 should be amended to cover dangerous occurrences where there is a high risk of serious injury or fatality.