UK Fish Company Fined Half a Million After Box Death

A UK fish processing company has been fined £500,000 after a 22 year old employee was killed by falling boxes.

Interfish Limited, a Plymouth based firm, was found guilty of negligence after Tomas Suchy was clearing up a fallen stack of frozen fish boxes in one of the company’s cold store areas when a further fall of stock hit him.

The injuries he sustained were severe and multiple, and ultimately proved fatal.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out an investigation into the incident, which occurred on October 18, 2013, and found that there were no safe working systems or instructions for staff on how the pallets should be correctly stored.

When the incident occurred it was discovered that there was no procedure in place from the company for falling stock.

Based in Plymouth’s Wallsend Industrial Estate in the Cattedown Wharves, Interfish Limited submitted a guilty plea to a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The firm stood trial at Plymouth Crown Court earlier in the week and was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £24,800 in costs.

Emma O’Hara, HSE inspector, commented following the hearing that the safe stacking of stock is a necessity throughout all industries, though it is often overlooked when companies are implementing safe work systems.

She added that duty holders must ensure that stock is stacked safely and that plans are in place to deal with any unforeseen circumstances like stock suddenly falling as we have seen in this tragic case.

In 2014/15, 142 workers were fatally injured in the UK, which equates to 0.46 worker deaths per 100,000 workers.

This figure is a reduction of 9% on the previous five year average (156), while the last 20 year period has seen a steady decline in fatal injury rates, although this trend is becoming less clear.


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BDC 311 : Dec 2023