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Dad says ‘one person doing job properly’ could have saved young skipper son killed in crane tragedy

Jamie Kerr
Jamie Kerr

An Oban dad says his son’s life could have been saved if only “one person had done their job properly” in the days and weeks before he died in a crane accident.

Jamie Kerr, 25, was working at a fish farm at Loch Spelve, near Craignure on the Isle of Mull when the tragedy took place on April 30, 2015.

A sheriff has now ruled that the death of the young skipper could have been avoided if the correct sized kit had been used to fit the crane which fell on him and killed him.

The Inverlussa Marine Services worker was supervising a 20-year-old deckhand in unloading the last of the nets from the vessel Carol Anne when the crane suddenly collapsed.

Bereft dad reveals frustration at work practices

Mr Kerr’s father, John Kerr, of Connel, Oban, believes some added scrutiny of the equipment should have taken place.

He said: “If even one person had done their job properly it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“If you get sent bolts which are the wrong size, it should have been questioned.

“It could have been questioned a bit more, they shouldn’t have just went ahead with what they got, especially for a big bit of machinery being fitted on a boat.”

Inquiry outlines circumstances of tragedy

He was speaking following the publication of a Fatal Accident Inquiry which took place at Oban Sheriff Court.

Mr Kerr was standing beside deckhand Jack Young at the time of the accident.

The FAI findings state: “Jack Young heard a ‘loud high-pitched bang’ and observed the crane collapsing in their direction. Jack Young ran aft toward the wheelhouse and Jamie Kerr ran in the opposite direction towards the bow. Mr Kerr was struck by the crane boom and pinned to the bow ramp.”

Sheriff Patrick Hughes has found that the accident was caused by the failure of the bolts which fasted the crane in place.

They failed because the fitting kit for the crane, erroneously ordered and supplied, was the wrong size.

He ruled that the death could have been avoided if the correct fitting kit had been used to install the crane and if the person ordering the fitting kit, James Donaghue, who handled crane sales on behalf of Atlas UK, had checked which one was required rather than making an assumption.

The determination further states the death could have been avoided if the crane’s supplier, Atlas UK, had issued the correct kit, notwithstanding the erroneous request for the wrong size.

Safety probe called for

Contributing to the accident were defects in systems of working which included Atlas UK having no system in place to make sure the correct fitting kit was issued.

The supplier did not provide customers with information on the appropriate kit to be used when installing cranes.

Now the sheriff is calling for an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

He recommends that the Health and Safety Executive opens an investigation into how grade six locknuts incorrectly designated as being of the higher grade (eight) strength “came to enter the supply chain”; and whether “any ongoing risk” to safety remains.

The crane was installed by Oban-based company PMG Services, which made no comment following the FAI.

Death left colleagues ‘devastated’

A spokesman for Atlas said: “On behalf of Atlas Cranes, we have read the determination issued by Sheriff Hughes and are considering the findings. We extended our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Jamie Kerr during the FAI.

“Following this accident in 2015, we immediately reviewed our practices and processes, as is acknowledged in the determination. We hope that the industry as whole will learn from the death of Mr Kerr and we again pass on our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

Ben Wilson, managing director of Inverlussa Marine Services, said: “Everybody at Inverlussa was devastated by the tragic death of Jamie Kerr, who was a much-loved member of staff.

“The safety and wellbeing of our workforce is our top priority at all times. We cooperated fully with the FAI and welcome the sheriff’s findings.”

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