BP Faces Trial Following Fatal Fall of Oil Worker into North Sea
Posted 05/07/2023 10:32
BP is currently facing trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court in relation to the death of an oil worker, Sean Anderson, who fell into the North Sea almost nine years ago. The incident occurred on September 4, 2014, when Anderson, a 43-year-old multi-skilled scaffolder, was working on BP's Unity platform, an unmanned pumping station located approximately 110 miles northeast of Aberdeen.
During the trial, the court heard that Anderson fell approximately 72 feet (22 meters) through an open hole on the rig's deck into the water below at around 4 a.m. The conditions that night were foggy and dark, and Anderson was not wearing a life jacket, harness, or survival suit. He was found unconscious and not breathing when pulled from the water.
Although a rescue craft from the neighboring vessel, Olympic Orion, took Anderson back aboard, attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
The trial centers around BP's alleged breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The prosecution argued that BP failed to ensure the safety of individuals not employed by them by not implementing adequate control measures for open gratings on the lower deck of the Unity installation. It is claimed that this failure led to Anderson falling through an open grating and suffering fatal injuries.
Defense counsel for BP denied the charges, stating that the company did not breach the Health and Safety at Work Act. Testimony from witnesses shed light on the work permits required for operations on the Unity platform, as well as safety precautions implemented by the maintenance team contracted by Cape Industrial Services (now known as Altrad). A rope access technician confirmed that netting had been installed underneath the deck as a safety measure, and anyone working over the side of the rig was expected to wear a life jacket and be securely clipped on.
During the trial, a photograph of an open hole in the grating was presented to the court, and it was revealed that Anderson's team had erected a handrail and gate around the perimeter of the opening. Another scaffolder testified that their work permit for the night of the incident involved erecting barriers and signs, dismantling scaffolding, and ensuring there were no trip hazards.
The trial is expected to last approximately ten days and is presided over by Sheriff Graham Buchanan. BP remains firm in its denial of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, while the prosecution seeks to establish the company's failure to implement appropriate safety measures, ultimately leading to the tragic death of Sean Anderson.