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Animal feed manufacturer fined £100K in corporate manslaughter conviction.

A County Down animal feed manufacturer became the fourth company in the UK to be convicted of corporate manslaughter (in October 2013) after a casual labourer was killed by unguarded machinery.

Norman Porter, 47, had been working for Ballygowan based J Murray & Son for eight weeks. He was helping mix animal meal in a blender on 28 February 2012 when he either fell or was dragged by his clothing into the machine, dying when he became entangled with its blades. 

The court heard how the joint HSE for Northern Ireland and Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation revealed that J Murray & Son had bought the blending machine three years previously and, shortly after installation, had removed safety panels from the top of the mixer to allow raw ingredients to be added more easily, which exposed moving parts.

In mitigation, the defence counsel put forward a clean safety record, stating the firm had been in operation for decades without any health and safety issues prior to Mr Porter’s death.

The firm pleaded guilty and was fined £100,000; the lowest fine for corporate manslaughter to date, and below the minimum £500,000 suggested by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

When was the last time your staff received training for the machinery that they use? Did you document this training took place? Ultimately the test for a prosecutor is “do I have sufficient evidence for there to be a realistic prospect of a conviction?”

Ask ProAktive how we can help you with training, documentation and all other aspects of health & safety.

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