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Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Chipboard company fined £2 million after a Scottish employee passed away from severe burns

After a worker at a chipboard company's Scottish facility died from severe burns received while cleaning hot ash from equipment, the company was fined more than £2 million.

One of the biggest manufacturers of chipboard in the world, Norbord Europe, was found guilty of two health and safety violations at its plant in Cowie, Stirlingshire, in an early November unanimous jury decision at Perth Sheriff Court.

Managers assigned George Laird, 64, and several other coworkers the task of utilising a high-pressure hose to remove hot ash from a gas duct that was located above a wood dryer in July 2016.

90% of Laird's body was burned while he was standing below the duct and engulfed in hot water, steam, and ash. 
The next day, he passed away in the hospital.

The Health and Safety Executive's inquiry into the facility revealed a number of violations, according to Scotland's prosecution office, the Crown Office (COPFS), and Norbord was found to have failed to create a secure working environment for those tasked with cleaning the machinery.

“Employees were left to devise their own methods of working,” COPFS said. “Employees were exposed to risk of personal injury from falling ash within the combustion chamber since its installation at the site on 1 October 2014. There were several near misses involving other employees working during that time.”

The head of the Crown Office’s health and safety investigation unit, Debbie Carrol, said: “The tragic death of George Laird could have been prevented had suitable and sufficient measures been put in place.

“The prosecution and the sentence serve to highlight that a failure to fulfil health and safety obligations can have tragic consequences and those responsible will be held to account for their failings. Our thoughts are with Mr Laird’s family at this difficult time.”


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