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Poultry companies fined after worker crushed by forklift truck

Moy Park

Two local poultry companies have been fined following an accident in which an employee sustained life-changing injuries when he was crushed by a forklift truck.

Moy Park and Victor Foster Poultry Services companies had pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at an earlier hearing.

Today (Friday) at Craigavon Crown Court, Moy Park was fined £125,000 while Victor Foster Poultry Services was fined £18,000.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) took the prosecution following an investigation into an incident which occurred in 2017.

The investigation found that on December 1, 2017, a male employee (aged 31) of Victor Foster Poultry Services was with other employees in a commercial chicken house at a site in Moira, Co Down.

While working in near dark conditions he received multiple crush injuries when he was struck by a forklift truck.

The only light sources in the chicken house at the time of the incident consisted of blue lights on the forklift truck and head torches worn by the workers who had personally provided the equipment themselves.

Despite the poorly lit conditions, Moy Park had supplied the workers with dark blue overalls.

Both companies were found to have failed in their legal responsibilities to ensure safe working conditions in the chicken house where a forklift truck was required to operate in the same area as pedestrian workers.

Speaking after the hearing, Anne Cassidy, HSENI inspector said: “This was an avoidable incident that resulted in life-changing injuries to an employee because the principles of managing workplace transport were not applied.

“The very real risks associated with forklift trucks are well known. In this particular case, reasonable measures to prevent vehicle collisions with workers were not in place in a work area where there was an increased risk due to the dark conditions.

“The risk assessment and safe working procedures did not identify suitable controls that could easily have been implemented.”

A spokesperson for Moy Park said: “In 2017, an employee of a former third-party supplier was injured in a collision on a farm involving a forklift truck which was driven by another employee of the third-party company.  

This incident was totally unacceptable, and we offer our sincerest apologies to the victim and his family with the reassurance that immediate steps were taken to prevent the chance of a recurrence.

“Safety is a condition of our business and this also extends to the standards we expect from our professional sub-contractors. We fully accept today’s ruling and hope the judgement can also act as a reminder to all businesses about their health and safety duties, which extend beyond their own sites and beyond their direct employees.”

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