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Company Fined for Fatal Breach of Health and Safety Laws

A Dublin company has been fined €200,000 for a fatal breach of health and safety laws that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old warehouse supervisor.

On 28th November 2015, Robert Ceremuga – a warehouse supervisor at VF Coldstores Ltd – was killed instantly when racking supporting 36 tonnes of foodstuff collapsed on top of him. An engineer’s report following the accident concluded that the racking had collapsed due to the accidental impact of a forklift. It was found that the employee operating the forklift had been employed by VF Coldstores of Finglas, Dublin, just three weeks earlier and did not have the appropriate license to operate the vehicle.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for a fatal breach of health and safety laws, and last month a representative of VF Coldstores Ltd pleaded guilty to the charges at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The court also heard a victim impact statement read by Robert´s widow – Maria – following which Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the hearing in order to “conduct a scientific approach” to ascertaining the fine.

The hearing was reconvened yesterday, when Judge Greally imposed a fine of €200,000 on VF Coldstores Ltd for a fatal breach of health and safety laws. Speaking after the successful prosecution, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA – Brian Higgisson – said: “It is important that employers adequately manage and conduct work activities, in particular carrying out risk assessments before any major works, such as alterations to racking. These assessments should ensure that everyone has the necessary training, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a safe manner.”