Investigation into ‘tragic’ death of salmon farm worker adjourned

Editorial Staff

Inverness sheriff Gary Aitken has adjourned a fatal accident inquiry into a fish farm worker’s death, describing his loss as “a significant incident with a tragic outcome”.

Hendry, aged 58, died on February 18, 2020, during a transfer from a work boat to the Sea Cap structure at Ardintoul fish farm in Loch Alsh.

Written submissions from legal teams representing The Crown, Mowi and Hendry’s partner Catriona Lockhart, 56, will be heard on 12 June.

The court will determine the cause of death, what precautions might have been taken and what precautions could be implemented in the future.

The incident happened as Hendry attempted to step through a gate on the boat to the ladder on the barge.

A technician on board the boat ran to Hendry’s aid when he saw him “struggling and distressed” while trying to hold onto the sea cap’s ladder, however the assistant fish farm manager slipped out of his lifejacket and into the water for around 20 seconds.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said despite the efforts of colleagues, emergency services and medical staff, Hendry could not be resuscitated.

An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found that Mowi Scotland did not have an effective system in place in regards to the safe transfer of employees from a vessel to a structure such as a sea cap.

Fife-based Mowi Scotland pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches at Inverness Sheriff Court in May 2023.

The salmon farming firm was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60,000.

Minimize future risks

The FAI aims to determine the cause of death, the circumstances surrounding it, and identify measures to minimize future risks.

FAIs are investigative and not accusatory, focusing on establishing facts rather than assigning blame.

The inquiry will delve into risk assessments, work systems, lifejacket protocols, and man overboard training related to boat transfers.

Since Hendry’s death, unsecured “touch and go” transfers have been stopped and life-sized mannequins are now used to “add reality” to man overboard drills.


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