27th May 2018
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Builder death inquiry delayed again

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By RYAN TAYLOR

A fatal accident inquiry into the death of Brae builder James Thomson has been delayed for a fourth time.

The latest postponement is to allow the manufacturer of an expanding can of foam which exploded and killed Mr Thomson in March 2007 to carry out more tests on the product.

Representatives from the canister’s Swiss manufacturer Polypag AG say they need until 9th April before they can make figures ascertained from new examinations available to the court in Lerwick.

However, it will be almost another two weeks after that before Polypag’s latest findings will be translated from German and distributed to all parties concerned for examination, meaning the inquiry will not start again until 21st April.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said it appeared the company was carrying out further tests following evidence given by Dr John White of the Health and Safety Executive, who called into question previous evidence given by Polypag’s chemical technician Torsten Kellner when he took to the stand in January.

“From what I understand they are producing a report as opposed to a simple response to the questions put to them,” Mr MacKenzie said.

Solicitor Chris Dowle, who represents Mr Thomson’s father Dennis, said he doubted whether he could accept new information being put forward to the inquiry.

“If more material is being introduced, it’s not just a question as to how it should be heard but whether it should be heard at all,” Mr Dowle said.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said the inquiry should wait and see what the material was before deciding the next step.

The official inquiry began last August, but was delayed until January when questions arose which only Polypag could answer.

After hearing from Dr White sheriff Napier ruled Mr Kellner should be called to answer further questions.

Despite a further hearing last month, the inquiry has still to reach a conclusion – although Mr Thomson’s family have been told his death had not been his own fault.

Mr Thomson died two years ago when a can of Evo-Stik foam manufactured by Polypag on behalf of Bostick exploded into his chest and abdomen as he held it in his hands while helping to build a house in Levenwick.

The 26-year-old had been sealing new windows with the foam, which had been heated gently by an electric fan heater in the room before being applied to the window frames.

Evidence from the Health and Safety Executive has suggested the explosion could be down to a manufacturing fault, as the fan heater used could not produce enough power to result in an explosion.

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