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First corporate manslaughter conviction in NI

A farm company in Northern Ireland (NI) has been fined a record £187,500, plus £13,000 costs for health and safety failings that led to the death of 45-year-old employee Robert Wilson.

The company is the first in Northern Ireland to be convicted under new Corporate Manslaughter legislation. Under this legislation, companies and organisations can be found guilty as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

Mr Wilson, who was working at the meal-mixing plant on the farm, was killed after being struck by a metal bin which fell off a forklift. The forklift was being driven by one of the company directors. The investigation revealed that the bin had not been attached or integrated with the forklift. It was also revealed that it was not possible to insert the lifting forks into the sleeves of the bin as the forks were too large and incorrectly spaced.

Following the hearing, Louis Burns, HSENI Acting Deputy Chief Executive, said: "This case highlights the importance of managing health and safety in the workplace and demonstrates the terrible consequences of not doing so. The judgment sends a clear message to the Directors in Northern Ireland, whether of a small or large organisation, that they should take health and safety seriously.”

“This new Corporate Manslaughter legislation clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality. I would therefore urge anyone with a managerial or a supervisory role to ensure that proper management and control systems are in place to prevent another needless death from occurring."

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