Sunday, March 3, 2024

Egg business fined £233,000 after 19-year-old’s death

A mother has spoken about her grief after her only child was killed while working at Sunrise Eggs in Loughborough.

Nineteen-year-old Ben Spencer had only been working for Sunrise Poultry Farms for two weeks when he was crushed between a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and a wall on 12 April 2021.

His mum Tracy says she would like nothing more but to “curl up in a ball” after his death at the site in Sileby. “My life revolved around Ben, because it has always been just me and him,” she said. “I used to go out every day, even if it was just for a walk, and we used to go on family holidays, all of us with a caravan.

“Now I’ve got no life.  Sometimes I walk the dog at eleven o’clock at night to avoid running into people, I just can’t face getting into a conversation with them. I find myself keeping my distance from everyone, I just can’t cope with the idea of feeling close to someone, even my family.

“My dreams are of Ben when he was younger and I just yearn to be back there. Those years standing on the edge of a football pitch watching him in the freezing cold and now I’d just go back there in heartbeat.”

The HGV was attempting a complex manoeuvre towards a narrow thoroughfare at the Seagrave Road premises as Ben Spencer was walking towards it.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that measures in place for segregating pedestrians and moving vehicles were wholly inadequate.

Sunrise Poultry Farms, of Seagrave Road, Sileby, Loughborough, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was ordered to pay a fine of £233,000 plus costs of £8,841 at a hearing at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2023.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE enforcement lawyer Andy Siddall said: “The company admitted failing to segregate vehicles and pedestrians at its workplace in Sileby and that resulted in the tragic death of Ben.

“Accidents like this simply shouldn’t happen and a mother shouldn’t have to hold the hand of her son as he lies dying in the workplace. So please check your workplace transport risk assessments, think carefully, and ensure that everybody goes home safely.”

HSE inspector Alex Nayar said: “Our thoughts today are with Ben’s family and friends. He was at the start of his working life. He should have returned home safely to them at the end of his working day, but because of the failings of Sunrise Poultry Farms Limited, he did not.

“Ben’s death could have easily been prevented if they had adequately assessed and controlled the risks associated with workplace transport, a leading cause of death in the workplace.”

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