Two Northern Ireland (NI) poultry companies have been prosecuted for health-and-safety failings that resulted in an employee receiving life-changing crush injuries.

The prosecution involving Armagh-based companies – Moy Park Limited and Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited – came about following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) into an incident that occurred in 2017.

Both companies had pleaded guilty to health-and-safety offences at an earlier hearing.

Today (Friday, February 11), at Craigavon Crown Court, Moy Park Limited was fined £125,000, while Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited was fined £18,000.

The investigation found that, on December 1, 2017, a 31-year-old male employee of Victor Foster Poultry Services Limited was working, along with others, 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 Limited 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, HSENI inspector, Anne Cassidy, 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.”

The principles of managing workplace transport exist to protect workers, according to the HSENI.

These fall into the three main areas of:

  • Safe site, which ensures effective segregation of vehicles from pedestrians;
  • Safe vehicle, which considers the most appropriate vehicle for the task and environment;
  • Safe driver’ which focuses on the competence and behaviour of those who operate vehicles.

More information and specific guidance in relation to managing the risks associated with workplace transport can be found here