Energy firm guilty after worker died in offshore fall in 2014

July 17, 2023

Energy firm BP has been found guilty of breaching health and safety laws after a worker died when he fell from an offshore platform into the sea.

Sean Anderson, 43, fell through an open grating on the Unity installation, about 112 miles (180km) north-east of Aberdeen, on 4 September 2014. Mr Anderson, from the Tyne and Wear area, fell about 72ft (22m) into the water.

The verdict followed an eight-day trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Fiscal depute Kristina Kelly, who was prosecuting, said BP operated Unity at the time, and Mr Anderson worked for Cape which was carrying out work on the platform.

Ms Kelly said that at about 04:00 on the day in question the scaffolder, who was not wearing a lifejacket, fell through an open grate into the sea. The alarm was raised and a fast-rescue craft found Mr Anderson face down in the water and he was taken aboard.

First aid was administered, but he had no pulse and was very cold. Resuscitation efforts continued until paramedic assistance arrived by helicopter, but Mr Anderson was pronounced dead.

The cause of death was given as head and chest injuries as a result of his fall.

Sheriff Graham Buchanan told the jury in his closing address last Friday that the defence argued the existence of a hard barrier around the open grating, in the form of scaffolding, ensured there was no risk as far as was reasonably practicable.

However, Sheriff Buchanan said the Crown position was the open grating did pose a risk, demonstrated by the fact Mr Anderson fell through it to his death, and that other safety measures could have been adopted.

BP Exploration was found guilty, by a majority, of failing to have in place suitable and sufficient control measures in respect of open gratings on the lower deck, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.

Sheriff Buchanan adjourned the case for sentencing.

This is valid as of 17th July 2023.

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