Company Hit By Huge Fine Over Worker Death

Tragedy Leads To Prosecution For Safety Failings

21.08.2014

A meat farm based in the Scottish Borders has been hit with a £100,000 fine after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive over safety failings that led to the death of one of its staff on site.

Scottish Borders Abattoir was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an incident at its premises in Galashiels, in which a member of staff, David Barker, was engaged in loosening fixings to the supporting frame of a partition door in January 2011.

As he removed the fixing that attached the frame to the ceiling of a container unit, the structure collapsed and trapped him by the neck, causing him to suffocate.

The HSE found the company had failed to provide Mr Barker with correct instructions, training or supervision for his work, no risk assessment had been carried out and the method of work used was unsafe. It said the incident could have been avoided with reasonable precautions in place.

Scottish Borders Abbatoir pleaded guilty in the hearing at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to breaches of Section 2(1), Section 33(1)(a) and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, prompting the huge fine.

Head of the health and safety division of the Procurator Fiscal's Office Gary Aitken said: "Scottish Borders Abattoir Limited was today found guilty of contraventions of the Health & Safety at Work Act that led to the death of an employee.

"This was, sadly, an entirely avoidable tragedy which resulted in the loss of a loved one for the Barker family.

"Hopefully, today’s outcome will highlight the need for companies to keep the health and safety of their employees to the fore."

The prosecution was the second case in Scotland in less than a week in which a firm has been heavily fined over the death of an employee.

In the other case, Stonehaven-based animal feed firm East Coast Viners Grain was fined £240,000 after one of its workers was killed when an unsecured grain bill fell onto him from a forklift truck.