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Lessons to be learned. Scottish Fire Service admits health and safety failings after 35 year old firefighter dies

by , 24 February 2015
Ewan Williamson, 35 years old, died after becoming trapped whilst rescuing people from flats above Edinburgh pub The Balmoral Bar which was ablaze. The Scottish fire service has pleaded guilty to health and safety failings after the death of firefighter Ewan Williamson.

Here's what you can learn from this tragedy.

Although around 20 people were rescued from flats above the pub, the firefighter died after becoming trapped, according to Dailyrecord.co.uk.

The case is now finally closed - the incident happened back in 2009. As the source states, at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service pleaded guilty to one count of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 2974 between July 13, 2008 and July 12, 2009.

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Some of the aspects they neglected are the following: they pleaded guilty to failing to have an "effective system of radio communication" during the fire at the Balmoral Bar amd also an "effective system of implementation of procedures for firefighters using breathing apparatus".

Moreover, the service didn't make sure all the training courses were being held by the firefighters.

Keep in mind that when it comes about risk assessment, we deal with:

    Baseline risk assessments (Baseline HIRA)
    Issue based risk assessments (Issue based HIRA)
    Continues risk assessments (Continues HIRA)

If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Let us remember that the purpose of a conducting a baseline HIRA is to establish a risk profile or a set of risk profiles. It is used to prioritise action programmes for issue-based risk assessments.


Moreover, this should be performed to obtain a benchmark of the types and size of potential hazards, which could have a significant impact on the whole organisation. They need to identify the major and significant risks, then prioritise these risks and evaluate the effectiveness of current systems for risk control.

Plus, the output of an issue-based HIRA is clear recommendations to management for further action in terms of Section 11(2) of the MHSA. Examples in this sense may refer to new machine or quipment introduced to the site, task risk assessment, process hazard analysis and so on.

Whent it comes to purpose of conducting continuous HIRA, keep in mind the following:
-    identify hazards with the purpose of immediately treating
-    significant risks;
-    gather information to feed back to issue-based HIRA; and
-    gather information to feed back to baseline HIRA.


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