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Co Antrim shot-blasting firm fined after death of employee due to health and safety failures


Co Antrim shot-blasting firm fined £120,000 for health and safety failures

Co Antrim shot-blasting firm fined £120,000 for health and safety failures

Co Antrim shot-blasting firm fined £120,000 for health and safety failures

A Co Antrim shot-blasting firm was today fined £120,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death when a metal rack fell off a forklift truck.

Belfast Recorder Judge Stephen Fowler QC said the “foreseeable failings” by NK Coatings Ltd in the incident almost two years ago resulted in the death of a 56-year-old man which had a “catastrophic impact on his wife and three daughters who have lost their loving husband and father”.

Paul Harvey, a director of NK Coatings Ltd, based at Michelin Road, Mallusk, had previously pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to a single charge of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees.

Passing on the court's “deepest sympathies” to the family, Judge Fowler added: “A void has been left in their lives which cannot be assuaged by any sentence that I pass today.

“It has been particularly difficult for the victim's widow as her husband was the main bread winner for the family which is presently suffering financial hardship with their lives dramatically changed for the worse,” said Judge Fowler.

Prosecution lawyer David Russell told Belfast Crown Court that on September 23, 2020, workers at the factory were moving a partially assembled metal rack weighing 660kg on a forklift truck.

While manoeuvring the metal structure onto its feet, “the metal rack fell off the toes of the forklift, pinning the victim to the ground and crushing the deceased”.

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Mr Russell said that the previous week a crane had been used to move a similar type structure, adding that had this happened in this incident the death of the worker would not have taken place.

“There was a total failure in this case in terms of health and safety. No plan of this task had taken place prior to the movement of the metal structure.”

He added that the death of the worker had left his widow, a mother of three, in “straitened times”.

Defence counsel Frank O'Donoghue QC said his instructions on behalf of the company was “this accident should not have happened and it is a matter of deep regret that the accident did happen and the company fully acknowledge the dreadful consequences that has befallen the family of the deceased”.

In relation to the financial hardship affecting deceased's family, Mr O'Donoghue said the company's solicitors would be addressing that with NK Coatings's insurers.

“I have full authority to indicate that if the family's solicitors provide a breakdown of what is required by way of an interim payment that this will be addressed positively.”

The defence counsel said that the company fully accepted its health and safety failings and as a result of this incident, all other work of this nature is now being carried out by its sister company, NK Fencing Ltd.

Judge Fowler said the company had “completely failed” to foresee the dangers when assembling the rack but added that the company “had learned lessons from this tragedy” and prior to the incident had a good health and safety record.

Imposing the £120,000 fine, the Belfast Recorder said: “No fine I impose could in any way mark the value and worth of this hard working and dedicated husband and father”.

The judge added that he hoped an interim payment of compensation to the family will be processed quickly to alleviate their current financial hardship.

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