Poultry integrator Moy Park and catching firm Victor Foster Poultry Services have been fined after a worker received “life-changing crush injuries” while working on a broiler farm.

Both companies pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at an earlier hearing, and on 11 February 2022 at Craigavon Crown Court, Moy Park was fined £125,000, while Victor Foster Poultry Services was fined £18,000.

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A Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) found that on 1 December 2017, a male employee (aged 31) of Victor Foster Poultry Services was working along with others in a broiler unit at a site in Moira, County Down.

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

The agency added that 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.

HSENI said Moy Park had supplied the workers with dark blue overalls despite the poorly lit conditions.

Both companies were found to have failed in their legal responsibilities to ensure safe working conditions in the poultry shed 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.

Preventing collisions

“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.

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.”