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Scottish Hydro fined for fatal electrocution of worker

Gareth Aitken's death while working on a power line in the Highlands was 'avoidable'.

Electrocution: Scottish Hydro Electric has been fined over the death of a worker on the power lines. (file pic)
Electrocution: Scottish Hydro Electric has been fined over the death of a worker on the power lines. (file pic) © Ervins Strauhmanis, licensed for reuse (cropped)

A power company has admitted health and safety failings after the fatal electrocution of a man on a power line in the Highlands.

Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission PLC has been fined £133,000 after admitting responsibility for the death of Gareth Aitken.

The court heard that on August 2, 2013 Gareth Aitken was supervising two junior colleagues, using a suspended work platform to replace the cables between the pylons on the line at Contullich Woods near Alness.

While moving the platform to a lower position on the pylon, Mr Aitken came into contact with a charged electric cable.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and police found that the permit to work issued by Scottish Hydro Electric was inadequate and that the risk of death or very serious injury was "foreseeable and entirely avoidable".

The company, responsible for maintaining the electricity transmission network in the north of Scotland, pleaded guilty to a contravention of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Gary Aitken, head of health and safety division said: "The failing on the part of Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission PLC to have in place an adequately specified permit to work did not provide for a safe system of work. This ultimately led to the tragic death of Gareth Aitken.

"The risk of death from this type of work was foreseeable and entirely avoidable.

"Since this incident the company has carried out additional training in the Permit to Work process to ensure compliance with expected standards.

"Companies can fully expect to be prosecuted for their failure to fulfil their health and safety obligations."

SSE managing director for networks Colin Nicol said: "We apologise unreservedly to Gareth Aitken's family for the failings that contributed to his death.

"This tragic incident is a constant reminder that safety must be our highest priority - we are committed to doing things safely or not at all.

"There has been a thorough investigation by Police Scotland, the Health and Safety Executive and SSE, and we have further improved and tightened our safety procedures to do our utmost to ensure all of our employees and contractors go home safe at night."

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