• Robert Spicer

Argyll shellfish diving safety failures: contractor fined £4000

Shellfish diving safety failures: £4000 fine

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service v Douglas Cameron (2016) Campbell Sheriff Court, April 8

Douglas Cameron, a diving contractor, has been fined for safety failings in operations for shellfish diving.

Significant points of the case

  • In September 2014 Cameron was collecting razor clams using electric fishing methods near the island of Gigha, Argyll.

  • The use of electrical fishing equipment is not in itself an offence. It formed part of the prosecution of Cameron because the risks to divers arising from this method had not been assessed.

  • The diving operations had not been planned, managed or conducted in a safe manner.

Cameron was fined £4000 for a breach of regulation 6, Diving at Work Regulations 1997. This states, in summary, that a diving contractor is under a duty to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in a diving project by ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the diving project is planned, managed and undertaken in an appropriate manner.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that diving was a hazardous occupation and it was absolutely vital that all diving operations were planned, managed and conducted in a safe manner. There had been diving fatalities in the shellfish industry and it was imperative for contractors to ensure that divers they employed were suitably qualified, fit to dive and provided with suitable equipment to carry out the dive as safely as possible.

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