Defence firm ‘disregarded safety’ at Glenrothes plant

A GLOBAL defence contractor has been fined after two workers suffered horrific injuries in an accident at a factory that builds laser guidance systems for missiles.

Steven Delargey: Suffered burns and post traumatic stress
Steven Delargey: Suffered burns and post traumatic stress

Raytheon Systems Ltd had Steven Delargey and Russell Brand, both employees of Fife firm C&F Electrical Services, carry out work at its Glenrothes plant that was “not essential”.

They tried to replace capacitors while a high voltage electrical system was live because Raytheon did not want to ­interrupt production at the ­factory.

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The pair suffered horrific injuries in the accident. Prosecutors said the firm wanted to “cut costs at the expense of safety”.

The men’s injuries were caused after one of the ­capacitors they were removing came into contact with a pair of live “busbars” – causing an electrical flashover that severely burned them on the face, neck and arms.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard Mr Brand and Mr Delargey both had to be admitted to intensive care units for four days.

Mr Delargey suffered 10 per cent full thickness burns and was off work for almost a year. He has been left with permanent scarring to his neck and face and must now apply factor 50 sun cream any time he goes outdoors.

Mr Brand has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and has also been left with permanent scars.

Raytheon, a worldwide defence manufacturing giant, builds equipment including ­laser-guidance systems for missiles at the Fife factory.

Mr Delargey and Mr Brand were working as contractors at the facility replacing capacitors within a high voltage electrical distribution board. Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard Raytheon, which posted profits of more than £65 million in the UK alone last year, employs 560 people at the Fife plant.

The men were to remove large capacitors weighing 19 kilos each from a tight space, with live busbars sitting just 12cm below the bottom of the lower capacitor.

However, a short circuit was created with electricity arcing between the two live busbars, causing an explosion of bright light and vaporising the busbars due to the high temperatures involved.

The Health and Safety Executive found that the work should not have gone ahead with the distribution board live and that the job was “not reasonable”.

Inspectors found there was “no urgency” for the capacitors to be replaced as they had been switched off for some time and that the only effect of delaying the work would have been increased energy bills and issues meeting Carbon Trust emissions standards.

The court was told that “cost cutting at the expense of safety” was an “aggravating factor” in the case and that the risks were “entirely foreseeable”.

Essex-based Raytheon and C&F Electrical Services based in Poplar Road, Glenrothes, both pleaded guilty to two charges on indictment under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Sheriff James Williamson imposed a fine of £24,000 on Raytheon, and £20,000 on C&F Electrical Services Ltd.