Irish Distillers fined €40,000 following employee fatality

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Today, Tuesday 23 February 2021, at Cork Circuit Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a fine of €40,000 on Irish Distillers Ltd following guilty pleas to breaches of the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety, Health & Welfare at Work General Application Regulations 2007. 

The case arose following a fatal accident on 12 March 2018 when an employee was staging whiskey casks at Dungourney warehouses complex, Co. Cork. He suffered fatal injuries when a forklift involved in the staging process came in contact with him. 

Irish Distillers Ltd. pleaded guilty to S19(1) contrary to S77(2)(a) of the Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 (did fail to identify, so far as was reasonably practicable, a hazard in the said place of work, specifically the staging of whiskey casks by forklift operations outside the warehouse, assess the risks presented by the said hazard and be in possession of a written assessment of the risks). The company also pleaded guilty to Reg. 41 (a) of the Safety, Health & Welfare (General Application) Regulations 2007 contrary to S77 (2)(c) of the Safety, Health & Welfare Act (did fail to ensure that appropriate traffic management systems were drawn up and followed when work equipment, namely a forklift, was moving around a work area). 

Speaking after the company was sentenced, Chief Inspector with the Health and Safety Authority Mark Cullen said:

“The circumstances of this tragic incident should be a warning to all employers to make sure that they manage and conduct their work activities to ensure the safety of their employees. In particular, as can be seen in this case, it is important that safe systems of work are in place to ensure that persons carrying out the work can do so in a safe manner.”