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Ship’s owners fined £220k for R22 refrigerant death

UK: The death of a fishing boat crewman, asphyxiated by R22 refrigerant, has resulted in a fine of £220,000 for the vessel’s owners.

William Ironside, 52, died of refrigerant asphyxiation while cleaning a refrigerated salt water tank on the 56m UK-registered trawler Sunbeam in Fraserburgh harbour in August 2018. Four other men who ran to his aid were taken to hospital.

The boat’s owners, Sunbeam Limited, were fined £220,000 at Peterhead Sheriff Court on Monday (October 9). In addition, the ship’s captain, James Duthie was fined £7,500 and sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work.

According to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report, published in 2020, Ironside was found collapsed inside a refrigerated salt water (RSW) tank. Three of his crew mates went into the tank to help. All suffered breathing difficulties and one also collapsed. Two other crew members then donned breathing apparatus and rescued their struggling crew mates. Despite being rescued from the tank, Ironside could not be resuscitated.

MAIB reports that the tank was an enclosed space, without any of the normal safety precautions. There was no ventilation, the atmosphere was not monitored and Ironside was working alone without communications.

It was found that R22 refrigerant had leaked into the tank through corroded tubes in the evaporator of the vessel’s starboard refrigeration plant. 

Related stories:

Crewman was asphyxiated by leaking R2210 December 2020
UK: A ship’s second engineer working in the salt water tank of a trawler was asphyxiated by R22 leaking from the ship’s refrigeration system, investigators have reported. Read more…

Trawlerman asphyxiated by R22 leak19 October 2018
UK: Initial investigations have blamed failed evaporator tubes on a refrigeration plant for the asphyxiation of a crewman in Fraserburgh in August this year. Read more…

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