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Employer jailed after farm fatality

12 July 2023

IN CLONMEL Circuit Court, Judge John Martin handed down a 12 month prison sentence on an employer who had earlier pleaded guilty to charges in breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.

On 26 June 2016, a telehandler being used to carry out work on a farm holding at Coleman, Fethard, County Tipperary went out of control and overturned. As a result, an employee suffered fatal injuries and another employee suffered serious injury.

The employer, who was the farm owner and the owner of the telehandler, failed to manage and conduct work activities in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety health and welfare at work of his employees. Furthermore the employer failed to maintain the telehandler in such a way as to reduce risks to the users of the telehandler as it was in a dangerous condition, unsafe and unfit for use in that the brakes, accelerator cable, transmission selector, cab door and seat belt were not maintained.

The employer pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 8(2)(a) contrary to Section 77(9)(a) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, and to Regulations 31(c) and 40(b)(iii) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 contrary to Section 77(2)(c) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

Mark Cullen, assistance chief executive officer of the Health and Safety Authority said, “Working with machinery and vehicles is a well-known hazard in all workplaces. It is vitally important that employers maintain all machinery and vehicles being used in their workplaces, which includes farms, to ensure that the safety, health and welfare of their employees carrying out work activities are able to do so safely. Employers should also ensure that adequate operator training is provided and that risk assessments are carried out in advance of the work activities commencing, in order to ensure appropriate control measures are identified and put in place to prevent an incident. Failure to do so in this case has unfortunately led to a preventable workplace fatality.”