AN Aberdeen oil and gas firm has been fined £535,000 after a worker sustained life-changing injuries following the uncontrolled collapse of a crane.

Greig Philip Harwood and John Divers, contracted employees of Enermech Limited, were injured while working on the Fulmer Alpha North Sea oil platform on September 11, 2017.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that the 13-tonne, 45-metre long crane boom fell to the deck without warning, with flying parts hitting both men.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said both men were lucky to be alive following the harrowing incident.

Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited was issued the fine.

Harwood – who has now stopped working in the offshore industry after being diagnosed with anxiety, trauma and depression – could not eat solid food for around four months after sustaining a fractured jaw which had to be wired together with titanium plates.

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He continues to have physical symptoms where he cannot open his mouth fully and has no feeling in his lower jaw due to nerve damage.

Divers also suffered physiologically and required counselling sessions. He could not face working offshore for a year.

By less than half a metre, the crane boom missed a high pressure flare line, a fuel gas line and the main oil line.

HSE said if any of these had been hit it could have resulted in a serious hydrocarbon release.

An investigation by the HSE found that the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of the work and had failed to maintain the crane braking systems and equipment in a safe condition before work commenced.

Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Limited of Holburn Street, Aberdeen, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 2(1) of the of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was subsequently fined £535,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Dr Stephen Hargreaves said: "Greig Harwood and John Divers are lucky to be alive. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out suitable control measures and safe working practices.

“A North Sea oil platform is a hazardous environment, and it was again pure luck that the crane boom, which crashed to the deck, narrowly missed high pressure gas and oil processing equipment.

“This incident could have been avoided had the company properly planned and risk assessed the work and adequately maintained their cranes.

“It is very disappointing that we are seeing failings of this nature bringing those working on North Sea installations perilously close to disaster.”