A FIRM has been fined £200,000 after a rail bridge worker was gassed to death as a result of a catalogue of safety failings.

David Rodger died on the Tay Rail Bridge, where he was overcome by fumes and later found unconscious by colleagues.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard Mr Rodger, then aged 44, of Cowdenbeath, had been working in a space on pier 44 of the bridge.

Bosses had decided the area he was working in was not a "confined space" under health and safety legislation - meaning he was not given the correct protective clothing or equipment and no proper ventilation or extraction machinery was in place.

At the time of his death, Mr Rodger was wearing just a paper dust mask for protection rather than full breathing apparatus.

There was also no monitoring of oxygen levels in the area, as well as inadequate supervision and a lack of rescue facilities in the event of an accident.

Xervon Palmers Ltd admitted health and safety breaches that led to Mr Rodger's death.

Fiscal depute Gavin Callahan told the court that a post-mortem examination had determined Mr Rodger's cause of death as being toluene toxicity - meaning he had inhaled significant quantities of the chemical, which can cause severe neurological harm.

He said: "It is conceivable that in his inadequately protected state he may have been affected by the toluene vapours sinking to the bottom of the pier leg where he waited for his colleagues to finish priming areas above him.

"The high residual levels some time after his death indicate his exposure must have been substantial

"Toluene can cause confusion and affect judgement, which may explain his having commenced spraying without wearing his full face mask to do so."

Xervon Palmers pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge under the Health and Safety At Work Act.

Peter Gray QC, defending, said: "It is entirely accepted that this was a fundamental failure and it went to a senior level.

"That was not a deliberate failure or an act of recklessness.

"It wasn't an issue that had been disregarded - quite the opposite.

"There had been careful consideration and discussion involving a number of people with health and safety experience who ultimately made an error."

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC said: "As a result of these numerous failings the result was the tragic loss of life of David Rodger."