Firm fined after employee lost fingers in machinery accident

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A Co Fermanagh company which produces two million eggs a day, has been fined and ordered to pay costs of over £8,500 for health and safety breaches which resulted in a valued employee losing the fingers on his right hand.

The Lisnaskea based company, Ready Egg Products Limited, of Crom Road, had pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of employees, failing to assess risks and failing to provide adequate training.

Judge Paul Ramsey QC told company director Charles Crawford given the way they met the case, clear record in 40 years of operation, the circumstances of the tragic accident and their follow-up reaction, they would be fined a total of £7,500, with costs totalling £1,240.08.

Prosecution lawyer Michael McAleer told Omagh Crown Court that since the accident on August 21, 2014 the Health and Safety Executive of Northernn Ireland had been in contact with their European counter-parts in Italy in an effort to ensure such a tragedy does not happen again.

Mr McAleer said the Italian company supplied the conveyor belt machinery without guards at its ends, which allowed the unfortunate 54-year-old employee of ten years, to put his hand into, what he termed, “the danger area”. He had been checking on whether it was debris or damage to the rollers at the time.

“Unfortunately as he reached into the belt his hand was pulled into the nip point,” said Mr McAleer who added that initially it was thought the man’s fingers could be saved, but they each had to be amputated over the coming days.

The lawyer said while the machine was supplied without the guards, that did not negate Ready Eggs responsibilities, and while it could also be said it had been the employee who had put his hand inside the moving machinery, “the thrust of the case is that he should not have been able to do so”.

Defence lawyer Ronan Daly said that the injured man was regarded as a valued, respected and experienced worker, and referred to by Mr Crawford as no better man to deal with that part of the business. He added that following the accident he was offered alternative employment within the company, but declined

Mr Daly said since the accident the company had commissioned and installed bespoke guards on the machinery and had also been in contact with the Italian suppliers, the world leading manufactures, about the dangers posed without the fitted guards.

He added that Ready Eggs was a company which follows constantly and consistently all regulations required under European law, and that the machine in question was part of a £6ml investment during the 1990’s. The lawyer said the company had operated for over 40 years without coming under adverse attention, and has done so since.

Mr Daly said the company had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had co-operated fully with the H&S investigation. He also revealed the company handled two million eggs a day and was a leading supplier throughout the UK and Ireland.