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Partner of drowned fish farm worker sues Mowi Scotland

Mowi assistant farm manager Clive Hendry drowned when he fell into the water after being crushed between a workboat and a feed barge at Loch Alsh. His partner his suing Mowi for compensation.
Mowi assistant farm manager Clive Hendry drowned when he fell into the water after being crushed between a workboat and a feed barge at Loch Alsh. His partner his suing Mowi for compensation.

The partner of a Mowi Scotland assistant site manager who drowned after being crushed between a workboat and the side of a feed barge is suing the company over his death.

Clive Hendry, 58, fell into the water from the feed barge access ladder during a transfer from the 21-metre workboat Beinn Na Caillich at the Ardintoul salmon farm, Loch Alsh on February 18 last year.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found the Mowi did not have adequate safety measures.

Catriona Lockhart, Hendry’s partner, is seeking compensation from Mowi.

Clive was my life. Nothing can bring him back, but I want justice and an apology.

Clive Hendry's partner, Catriona Lockhart

She told The Times: “Some people have told me to move on and get on with my life, but Clive was my life. We were together every day for 28 years. Nothing can bring him back, but I want justice and an apology. I truly believe that Clive would be here today if Mowi had done what they were meant to.”

Lockhart is being supported by Scottish Hazards, a charity that campaigns for better workplace health and safety.

The MAIB report into the accident, published in May this year, said that the Beinn Na Caillich’s skipper was intending to align the forward bulwark gate with the barge access ladder and ensure that the vessel was stationary before instructing the assistant manager to step across to the SeaCap barge ladder.

The bulwark post of the Beinn Na Caillich and the D-fenders of the feed barge. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: MAIB.
The bulwark post of the Beinn Na Caillich and the D-fenders of the feed barge. Click on image to enlarge. Photo: MAIB.

Boat still moving

However, Hendry stepped on to the barge ladder while the workboat was still moving forward and was crushed between the boat’s bulwark gate post and the barge’s rubber D-fender.

A farm technician on board the barge attempted to stop Hendry from falling into the water by holding on to the back of his lifejacket and oilskin jacket, but Hendry, who was severely injured, slipped out of them.

Despite the assistant manager being recovered from the water and the determined efforts of the fish farm workers, emergency services, and medical staff, he could not be resuscitated.

Crotch strap unfastened

As permitted by company policy at the time, Hendry had not fastened the crotch strap of his lifejacket. The MAIB report said if the strap had been fastened it might have prevented the lifejacket slipping off and increased his chances of survival in the water.

The report also pointed out that there should have been a vertical rubber tyre fender arrangement next to the barge ladder to provide protection when larger vessels were mooring alongside. However, the vertical fender on the right-hand side of the ladder was missing after becoming detached following a heavy contact during a feed delivery on 8 February 2020, 10 days before the accident.

The investigation concluded that the conduct of the boat transfer had not been properly planned or briefed and was not adequately supervised or controlled.

No effective safety management

The MAIB 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 of Mowi vessels 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.

Lessons learned

The report noted that since the accident Mowi had reviewed, revised, and developed policies and risk assessment method statements for embarking and disembarking vessels, wearing of lifejackets, and manoverboard emergency procedures.

It had also introduced new equipment and training for recovery of a man overboard, incorporated the lessons learned from this accident into its e-Learning package for employees during induction, and engaged external auditors to undertake an audit of its health and safety management systems.

Workboat code

The MAIB recommended that Mowi applies the standards set out in the Workboat Code Edition 2 to all its existing workboats and, specifically, to fully implement a safety management system across its fleet that complies with the principles of the International Safety Management Code.

It also recommended that Mowi ensures that appropriate marine expertise is present or provided to its senior management team to oversee the safety of its vessels and marine operations.

After the report was published, a Mowi spokesperson said: “Clive had been a truly valued member of our team for 12 years and we all continue to be deeply affected by his death. Our sympathies go to Clive’s family, friends and colleagues. As detailed in the MAIB accident report, preventative actions were immediately implemented, and we are now reviewing the learnings from this report that include two recommendations made by the MAIB.”