£100K fine over abattoir death

Sheriff Kevin Drummond
Sheriff Kevin Drummond

The owners of a Galashiels slaughterhouse have been fined £100,000 after being found guilty of two health and safety breaches following the death of an employee.

Meat porter David Barker, from Selkirk, died in an accident at the Winston Road premises in January 2011.

A jury trial at Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard how the 48-year-old was in a storage container loosening the fixings of a steel partition door which collapsed and trapped him by the neck, as a result of which he died.

Scottish Borders Abattoir Ltd was found guilty of failing to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the health and safety of Mr Barker. The company was also found guilty by the jury of failing to carry out a risk assessment for the task between January 5, 2011, and January 19, 2011.

Defence lawyer Susan Duff QC told the jury that Mr Barker had only been asked by the company’s management to remove boxes from the container so that an assessment of the partition removal could take place, and he had been acting without anyone’s knowledge by unscrewing the fastenings.

But after two hours of deliberation the jury returned majority guilty verdicts on both charges.

A third allegation of failing to carry out risk assessments between August 2006 and January 2011 for tasks unrelated to food management safety at the abattoir was dropped by the Crown during the trial.

Sheriff Kevin Drummond imposed a fine of £100,000 to cover both offences.