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Worker thrown from man-riding basket at Scottish harbour

Scottish lifting and plant hire firm Hugh Simpson landed itself in court after a worker sustained serious facial injuries when he fell from a man-riding basket that was attached to a mobile crane.

Hugh Simpson was contracted to unload Deugro Danmark ships docking at Wick Harbour in Caithness, Scotland. The company provided its own unloading equipment and oversaw the lifting operations, while JGC Engineering and Technical Services was subcontracted to remove sea fastening – which secures cargo in transit - from the ships’ holds. 

On 7 January 2013, JGC employee Brian Reid was standing in a man-riding basket lowered into a ship’s hold by a crane. The crane operator could not see Reid while the basket was in the hold; he relied on instructions from the Hugh Simpson employee who was in charge of lifting operations that day and standing on the ship’s deck. 

Reid had cut one of the sea fastenings and used hand signals to indicate that the crane operator needed to move the basket so he could reach the other fixing. As he was working on the fastening, the basket tipped upside down and Reid fell onto the floor of the hold. He sustained multiple complex fractures to his face and nose and fractured his left hand. 

The Health and Safety Executive investigation found that Hugh Simpson failed to consider lifting people in a basket attached to a mobile crane in its operational plans and risk assessment. The man-riding basket was not suitable to be lifted by a crane and should only have been used with a forklift truck. 

At Wick Sheriff Court, Hugh Simpson pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations, under which employers must properly plan and supervise all lifting operations to ensure they are carried out in a safe manner, and was fined £26,000.


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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