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Poultry worker death linked to lack of PPE

Chicken on a slaughterline

A CORONER HAS RULED that a 61-year-old father died after decades of working in the poultry industry without the correct personal protective equipment.

David Marsden, from the Driffield area, passed away in Hull Royal Infirmary on April 25, 2019.

See also: Farm fatalities report launch as safety campaign gets underway

At an inquest into his death, Hull Coroner’s Court heard how Mr
Marsden had died of a heart condition brought about by the inhalation
of bird serum and excrement to which he was exposed to on a daily
basis.

Assistant Coroner Ian Sprakes accepted medical evidence that the
animal products which Mr Marsden encountered in his work as a meat
inspector were “well-recognised precipitants” of such conditions.

Mr Marsden spent more than four decades working in the industry. From
1976 he was employed by Twydale Turkeys where he was eventually
promoted to the role of quality control operator.

However, the court heard that in this period of employment he had no
health-related problems.

In 1987 he gained employment as a local government meat inspector,
before moving again in 1991 to the Meat Hygiene Service and finally to
the Food Standards Agency.

Summarising evidence provided by Mr Marsden’s wife, Mr Sprakes said he
was working “in a very busy processing environment” and worked
“exclusively with poultry”.

Dusty environment

The slaughterhouse where he worked handled around 30,000 chickens a
day and it was Mr Marsden’s job to ensure carcasses arrived in a
defeathered condition.

Mr Sprakes added: “I note and focus on the fact that from the evidence
of Mrs Marsden, this was a very dusty and dirty environment.

“I also note in her evidence that for what appears to be quite a
period of time David was not provided with any personal protective
equipment.

“This was only latterly introduced after some complaints had been
reported by David in relation to his condition and as a consequence of
that safety standards were introduced where masks had to be worn by
employees to prevent them inhaling dust or feathers.”

Industrial disease

Mr Sprakes recorded a conclusion of industrial death and said: “Based
upon the evidence I have heard I consider that the only sensible
conclusion I can give is one of industrial disease.

“While David’s family are not in court today I would obviously want to
offer my sincere condolences to them with relation to the sad and
untimely loss of David.

“I always think it is very sad that men such as David, who have worked
all their lives and provided for their families through working extremely hard, were exposed at times to problems and consequences in
industrial environments that they should have been adequately and
appropriately protected from.”