Contractor and security company fined after security guard dies of hypothermia at windfarm

Two companies have been fined following an incident where a security guard died after being found lying face down and hypothermic, in deep snow, at a remote hillside in Ayrshire.

Ayr Sheriff Court heard that just after midnight on 22 January 2018, Ronald (Ronnie) Alexander, a 74-year-old security guard employed by Corporate Service Management Limited, was found by Police Scotland’s Mountain Rescue Team at Afton Windfarm, a remote site near New Cumnock. Mr Alexander died later that day having never regained consciousness.

Corporate Service Management Limited was contracted by Northstone (NI) Limited, who trade as Farrans, to provide security for this site. Following a site visit by the managing director and operations director of Corporate Service Management, it was agreed that two guards would be required because it was known that mobile phone signals offsite are very poor.

Around lunchtime on 21 January, as forecasted, the weather deteriorated resulting in deep drifts on the road to the site from New Cumnock, and the road between the gatehouse where Mr Alexander worked and the site compound where his colleague was stationed. Although mobile phone communications were known to be poor and inconsistent at the site there was no landline. Two-way radios were available, but these could only be used for the guards to speak with each other and not offsite.

The HSE investigation into Mr Alexander’s death found that when preparing their emergency weather plan, Northstone (NI) Ltd had failed to include those times when nobody from the company would be present at the site. The company also failed to ensure there was a back-up generator at either of the guard’s locations to ensure that their welfare area would have heating and lighting should the main generator fail, despite this having occurred on several occasions previously. Northstone (NI) Ltd did not ensure that Mr Alexander or his colleague had a reliable means of calling for help.

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