A global defence contractor has been fined after two workers suffered horrific burns in an accident at a Scots plant.
Raytheon Systems Ltd had Steven Delargey and Russell Brand, who were both employees of Fife firm C&F Electrical Services, carry out non essential work at their Glenrothes plant on December 5, 2011.
The two men tried to replace capacitors while a high voltage electrical system was live because Raytheon did not want to interrupt production at the factory.
The pair suffered serious injuries in the accident, with prosecutors stating the firm wanted to “cut costs at the expense of safety”.
Their 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% full thickness burns and was off work for almost a year. He has been left with permanent scarring to his neck and face.
As a result of the skin damage to his face he has been told by medics to apply factor 50 sun cream any time he goes outdoors, regardless of the weather.
Mr Brand has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and has also been left with permanent scars.
Raytheon, a worldwide defence manufacturing giant, build, among other items, laser-guidance systems for missiles at the Fife factory.
Mr Delargey and Mr Brand were working as contractors at the facility on a high voltage electrical distribution board.
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard Raytheon, which posted profits of over £65m in the UK alone last year, employs 560 people at the Glenrothes plant.
The men were to remove large capacitors weighing 19kg each from a tight space, with live busbars sitting just five inches below the bottom of the lower capacitor.
The capacitors were isolated from the electrical supply but the busbars remained live.
The top capacitor was removed successfully but the pair struggled to remove the second as the space was so restricted and so close to the live busbars.
A piece of chipboard was placed on to racking beneath the capacitor to try to guard against it being dropped on to the busbars, but it had a four-inch gap on either side.
The court heard that when the capacitor fell 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.
A blaze started as a result, with fire crews racing to the scene along with ambulances.
A health and safety executive probe found that the work should not have gone ahead with the distribution board live and that the job was “not reasonable”.
They 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”.
Raytheon, which has its headquarters in Essex, and C&F Electrical Services, based in Poplar Road, Glenrothes, both pleaded guilty to two charges on indictment under the Electricity at Work Regulations.
Sheriff James Williamson imposed a fine of £24,000 on Raytheon, and £20,000 on C&F Electrical Services Ltd.