Investigators said Mowi did not have an effective marine safety management system in place.
At about 15:10 on 18 February 2020, Clive Hendry, 58, stepped off the deck of a moving vessel on to the ladder of a barge, suffering severe injuries. A colleague grabbed his lifejacket, but Hendry fell into the sea.
According to the Times, Catriona Lockhart, Hendry’s partner of 28 years, had lodged a claim against his employer, Mowi Scotland, and is seeking compensation for the fall at Ardintoul fish farm on Loch Alsh, near the Kyle of Lochalsh in the northwest Highlands.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) had found no effective safety management system had been in place.
Lockhart said: “It is just devastating to me to think he had the most horrific death.”
Crushed to death
Hendry had stepped from the deck of the moving boat to the barge’s access ladder when the accident happened at a Highlands salmon farm.
He was being taken on the workboat, “Beinn Na Caillich”, to the salmon feed barge to have his lunch after finishing work treating a salmon cage. The boat’s skipper was preparing to align his craft with the barge when Hendry stepped through an open gate on the deck to the ladder and was crushed.
A technician on the barge spotted Mr Hendry hanging from the ladder and grabbed hold of the strap at the back of his lifejacket. Mr Hendry told the technician he could not use or feel his legs, according to the MAIB report.
Shortly after, Mr Hendry lost his grip on the ladder and slipped out of his oilskin jacket and lifejacket, which was not fastened at the crotch straps, and fell into the water. The technician was left holding the items at the top of the ladder.
Mr Hendry’s work colleagues managed to get him out of the sea but, despite the “determined efforts” of them and the emergency services, he died.
Marine safety management system missing
The report said Mr Hendry had worked in the fish farming industry for more than 20 years was regarded as a hard-working member of his team who was respected for his experience.
Investigators said his employer did not have an effective marine safety management system in place. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has also made a series of safety recommendations following the accident last February.
The report concluded that the “conduct of the boat transfer had not been properly planned or briefed and was not adequately supervised or controlled”.
“Did not appreciate the risk”
The report found that:
- The transfer of workers by boat had not been properly risk assessed, and safe systems of work had not been put in place.
- Crews had not conducted regular “man overboard” recovery drills and were not familiar with the vessel’s recovery equipment. – Mowi Scotland Ltd did not have an effective marine safety management system and lacked staff with the experience to oversee its marine operations.
- Mr Hendry “did not appreciate the risk he was taking and was able to step across because the bulwark gate had been left in the open position and there were no crew on hand to supervise the transfer”.
Mowi Scotland – Mr Hendry’s employer – said it had immediately implemented the actions required of it.