Scalloway fish processor QA Fish has been fined £80,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety failings which led to the death of one of its employees.
Karen Allen, 61, was run over by a reversing forklift on the morning of 31st January, 2018, while working at Blacksness Pier.
She suffered a significant loss of skin after being dragged by the forklift, Lerwick Sheriff Court heard, and died in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary three weeks later.
Depute fiscal Roderick Urquhart said that there were no warning signs on the pier to say forklifts were operating in the area, and that staff were not asked to wear high-visibility clothing to mark them out to forklift drivers.
TL Dallas had carried out risk assessments at QA Fish on several occasions, he said, and had told the company in April 2015 that very little progress had been made after it suggested changes.
On another visit in October 2016, the TL Dallas assessor told QA Fish it was “embarrassing he had visited on three occasions and there were no improvements”.
Solicitor Clare Bone said QA Fish’s directors, who were in court, offered their sympathies to Mrs Allen’s family.
The court heard that Mrs Allen had suffered hearing loss after having cancer, but Ms Bone said that her clients did not know this until after her death.
Mrs Allen had refused to wear a hearing aid, the court was told.
The solicitor argued that QA Fish had taken every possible step to address health and safety concerns following the accident, including bringing in warning signs and high visibility clothing.
Ms Bone said QA Fish was a “small company trying to do its best”, but one that had been “wholly naïve” in its approach.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said that while the company’s remorse was “heartfelt and genuine”, they had failed to update health and safety policies over a four year period.
He called this a “very serious offence”, committed over “a lengthy period time”.
The sheriff fined them £80,000, to be paid within 12 months.