ABERDEEN, UK – Technip UK Ltd. has been fined £160,000 ($253,253) after admitting a breach of Regulation 5 of the UK’s Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessel (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
In March 2009, David Stephenson was working as rigger on the company’s diving support vessel Wellservicer, which had left the Netherlands and was returning to Aberdeen. It stopped 3 mi (5 km) outside of the harbor for trials and tests which included testing of the forward bell.
On April 1 a problem came to light with the buoyancy blocks attached to the dive bell. These were found to be touching the cursor frame, preventing it frame from fully engaging with the dive bell.
Later that day within the bell hanger area, Stephenson put on a safety harness and a fall arrestor which clips onto the cursor, designed to hold him in an upright position in case he should he fall.
He climbed onto the top of the forward dive bell and, as he started to remove the bolts, the cursor descended toward the forward dive bell from a height of around 8-10 ft (2-3 m). Stephenson tried to jump off the dive bell but his safety harness locked and he was struck by the cursor and pinned down.
Despite being flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary he was pronounced dead at 1845hrs.
An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency concluded that the braking system on the secondary winch should have prevented the cursor’s descent. However, the cursor was a load, suspended from a system that had not yet been accepted and had not been positively secured using strops or preventer pins.
Had those pins been in place, the descent would likely have been arrested soon after it had begun, with no resultant death.
Head of enforcement Jeremy Smart said, “This incident clearly demonstrates that proper risk assessments need to be conducted before any operation is undertaken and the appropriate safety measures put in place.”