A tree surgeon is facing court after a man was fatally injured by falling timber in Aberdeenshire.
Andrew Pirie was fatally injured when a section of tree trunk fell on him in Dunnottar on June 25 2020.
The tragic incident happened at the junction of the Kirkton of Fetteresso to Dunnottar Woods road and the Middle Toucks Farm access road.
Now, Scott Menhinick, 44, has appeared in court facing a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as well as attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Menhinick, of Castle Crescent, Inverbervie, pled not guilty to both charges when the case called against him at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
He is alleged to have been self-employed at the time and failing to ensure people were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
The charge states Menhinick:
- Failed to undertake an adequate assessment of hazards and risks
- Failed to identify, mark and agree with others working there an appropriate “drop zone”
- Failed to secure the drop zone to prohibit any unauthorised or unplanned access to it
- Failed to establish an effective means of communication between the aerial and ground-based operatives
- Failed to sever sections of timber in small, manageable amounts with a practical means of controlling the timing or direction of their fall
- Failed to ensure persons, including Mr Pirie, who was also working there, were prevented from entering or working in the drop zone while timber was being felled above
The charge alleges that Mr Pirie entered the de facto drop zone to clear away felled timber and was struck by a section of tree trunk felled by Menhinick, leaving him with fatal injuries.
A second charge alleges Menhinick attempted to pervert the course of justice by inducing the proprietor of the land to tell investigators that he had been doing the work as a “favour” and was not being paid.
Trial date set for next year
The charges state this was done with the intention of concealing the fact he was self-employed in order to avoid liability under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Defence agent Lynn Bentley, representing Menhinick, entered not guilty pleas and signalled her intent to challenge the assertion that her client was self-employed.
Sheriff Andrew Miller fixed a trial date in February next year and a further pre-trial hearing for December.
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