Wind farm construction worker froze to death following safety breaches

Contractor Northstone (NI) and security firm Corporate Services Management have both admitted breaching health and safety rules in an incident which led to the death of a 74-year-old wind farm security guard.

Ronnie Alexander died in hospital in January 2018 after he had been “exposed to extreme weather conditions” for several hours at the Afton wind farm construction site, near New Cumnock in East Ayrshire.

Another security guard was also exposed to the heavy snow and cold.

At Ayr Sheriff Court this week, Northstone (NI) and Corporate Services Management admitted failing to provide a reliable source of heating at the site. They also admitted to failing to provide an adequate system of communication so their staff could contact the emergency services. Additionally, there was no official plan to evacuate workers in an emergency.

Alexander was employed by Corporate Services Management, known as CSM Facilities. Northstone (NI) is the parent company of Farrans Construction, which was operating the site.

Both companies appeared on a Section 76 indictment at Ayr Sheriff Court.

Northstone admitted failing to ensure a safe system of work at the Afton wind farm site. Specifically, it failed to provide a reliable source of back-up generator for heating. The charge stated that the generator at the main compound was subject to regular break down and there was no back-up. Similarly, there was no back-up for a generator at the guard house.

Additionally, Northstone did not provide a way for the security guards to contact the emergency services in the event of difficulties, or put in place a site evacuation plan.

Corporate Services Management admitted failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its two employees between 1 October 2016 and 22 Jan 2018.

Following the court hearing Northstone issued a statement in which it expressed its deep regret. Lawyers for both firms offered their condolences to the family of Ronnie Alexander during the court hearing.

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