Storage Company Fined for Death of Employee

Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court have fined a storage company €200,000 for breaches of health and safety regulations that resulted in the death of one of their employees. 

The accident occurred on the 28th November 2015 when Robert Ceremuga, a thirty-two year-old warehouse supervisor, was at work for VF Coldstores Ltd.. Tragically, a rack that supported around thirty-six tonnes of food products collapsed atop of Robert, killing him instantly. After the accident, an engineer’s report revealed that a forklift had accidentally collided with the rack, causing it to give way. It was also uncovered that the employee charged with the forklift had been working at the warehouse for just three weeks and lacked the appropriate license to operate the machine. 

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) proceeded to prosecute VF Coldstores Ltd. for their breaches of health and safety regulations. Last month, at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court, a representative for VF Coldstores Ltd plead guilty to the charges. During the same hearing, Maria – Robert’s widow – read a victim impact statement, after which the judge – Ms Justice Melanie Greally – decided to adjourn the hearing such that she could calculate compensation using a “scientific approach”. 

Earlier this week, the hearing was reconvened. Judge Greally ordered VF Coldstores Ltd to pay a fine of €200,000 for their negligence. Brian Higgisson, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, commented after the announcement of the fine that “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.”