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Seafood company fined £80,000 for failings that led to woman’s death

A Shetlands based company has been fined £80,000 after an employee sustained fatal injuries after being struck by a forklift truck.

QA Fish Ltd, a fish processing company based at Blacksness Pier, Scalloway, pled guilty to health and safety breaches committed between 6 January 2014 and 31 January 2018 at Lerwick Sheriff Court on 25 May 2022.

The court heard that on 31 January 2018 Karen Allan was run over by a reversing forklift truck after placing a bag of rubbish into a bin on the company’s premises.

Mrs Allan, a quality controller and housekeeper with the company, had heard the reversing alarm and shouted but was unable to get out of the path of the forklift which struck her leg and dragged her under.

The 61-year-old died on 22 February 2018.

The joint investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive found that the company had failed to implement a health and safety management system.

There was no risk assessment in place for pedestrians using the same area the forklift was operating in. There were no visible barriers to separate these areas and no requirement for employees to wear high visibility clothing when working in the exterior area of the premises.

Systems and methods of work were established informally by individual employees without formal direction or guidance from senior management. Formal, documented systems of work for pedestrian and forklift truck operations did not exist. Employees were instead left to “get on with it” and expected to use their common sense.

It was only after the incident that the company put in place a health and safety management system.

Alistair Duncan, Head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said:

“The tragic death of Karen Allan could have been avoided had QA Fish Ltd put in place a health and safety management system.

“There was no corporate responsibility for health and safety and a failure to consider over a reasonable period which put their employees at unacceptable risk.

“This prosecution should remind other employers that failing to keep their employees safe can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.

"Our thoughts are with Mrs Allan’s family who must live with the consequences of the failings of QA Fish Ltd.”