Long delay for inquiry into death

THE REST of the official inquiry into the death of Brae joiner James Thomson from an exploding aerosol can will not now take place until January.

The lengthy four-month delay is to allow the Swiss manufacturer Polypag time to make arrangements to take part in the investigation at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

The fatal accident inquiry into 26-year-old Mr Thomson’s death was halted last month after two days so the company could be contacted and invited to appear. It had emerged that there were too many questions about the manufacturing techniques and safety record of the expanding foam cans which only Polypag could answer, including reports of other explosions involving its cans in the Czech Republic and Denmark.

Although not legally required to give evidence in a Scottish court, Polypag has now agreed to appear with its lawyers and possibly its own expert witness. Speaking on Polypag’s behalf at the court on Monday, local solicitor Linda Knarston said it needed time to compile its own report into the accident, which happened in March last year while Mr Thomson was helping build a house in Levenwick with his father’s firm, Dennis Thomson Builders. The lethal can was sold by Bostik under its Evo-Stick brand.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said the length of delay required was regrettable but he had little alternative but to set the first available date of 19th January, allowing five more days for the evidence to be concluded. The inquiry is due to hear from another three witnesses from the HSE as well as from Polypag.

The sheriff said he hoped Mr Thomson’s family would be understanding about the need for the delay.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had written to its counterparts in Denmark and the Czech Republic in an effort to find out more about the exploding Polypag cans in their jurisdictions but it had not yet had a response.

The inquiry heard last month that the can of expanding foam which exploded and hit Mr Thomson in the chest and abdomen may have been faulty rather than having had excessive heat applied to it in an effort to get the foam to flow properly.


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