Balcas fined £50K for worker's death

Published:  30 December, 2009

ENNISKILLEN: Balcas, one of Britain's and Ireland's largest wood products suppliers, was fined £50 000 for a breach of health and safety laws which led to a worker's death.

In 2006, Michael Lukan was crushed inside a machine he was repairing when his supervisor restarted it at Balcas sawmills outside Enniskillen. The incident happened when Mr Lukan was fixing a chain inside the machine.

The company was fined at Omagh Crown Court and also ordered to pay costs.

Last year, the supervisor, Raymond Alexander Irwin, admitted a charge related to Mr Lukan's death. He had originally been accused of manslaughter. Instead, he admitted failing to take reasonable care and was bound over for a year.

It also emerged that safety devices, which should have stopped the machine being turned on in such a circumstance, had been removed.

This case was brought by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI). After the hearing Brian Pryce, investigating inspector with HSENI said: "It is vital that all companies properly identify and address hazards within the workplace, and implement systems to minimise and control risks.

"These systems need to be communicated to the workforce, implemented, maintained, and updated, when necessary."

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