Company Fined £80,000 in Relation to Electrical Explosion That Led to Asbestos Surveyor’s Death

A business in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands has received an £80,000 fine following the death of an asbestos surveyor who sustained significant burns in an electrical explosion.

Global Energy Nigg Limited admitted its guilt to breaching health and safety law before Tain Sheriff Court on Wednesday 18th January.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) described the death of the surveyor, Christopher Wayne Earley, as “entirely avoidable”.


What were the details of this tragic case?

The incident occurred on 10th December 2020, when Mr Earley – director of CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd – was undertaking a survey on the company’s behalf at Nigg Energy Park in the Cromarty Firth.

Mr Earley was surveying a large disused fabrication workshop at the site, which is also known as The Port of Nigg. It was here that the 64-year-old entered a seemingly no-longer-in-operation electrical switch room.

The surveyor opened an electrical cabinet, only for a powerful flash to occur by an electrical flashover. A high current electrical discharge occurred through an air gap separating the conductors.

Mr Earley suffered significant burns due to this incident and later passed away in hospital on 10th March 2021.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident and found that Global Energy Nigg Limited had not maintained the switch room in an appropriate condition.

Investigators discovered that there was no visual warning at the doorway of possible electrical danger. There was also a lack of suitable warning signs or labels on the live panels, and the redundant panels were not marked, either.

“Failing to take reasonable health and safety measures can have fatal consequences”

Leader of health and safety investigations for the COPFS, Debbie Carroll, stated: “Christopher Wayne Earley lost his life in circumstances which were foreseeable and entirely avoidable.

“By failing to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition, Global Energy Nigg Limited put someone not employed by them at unacceptable risk.

“The prosecution should remind duty holders that failing to take reasonable health and safety measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.”

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