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A shipping company has been fined following an incident that involved three of its workers.

Burke Shipping Services Ltd pleaded guilty to three breaches of health and safety in August 2015. The three employees were unloading cement powder when the incident occurred.


The men would normally climb down into the ship's hold by using a ladder. However, access to the ladder had been blocked by the cargo, so a suggestion was given to the employees to use a crane to lift them down into the hold using a basket.

During their work, the foreman called the men for a tea break. The three men used a basket attached to the crane so they could be lifted out of the hold. As the basket tilted, the men were thrown 12 feet to the ship's floor. Two of the workers were experienced, having been with the company 20 and 45 years respectively. The third worker had only started that day. The men incurred broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken thumb, a fractured shoulder and two fractured vertebrae between them.

According to Aidan Harkin, the defence counsel, the company has existed for 50 years without an incident of this nature occurring previously. He added that the firm has now installed the correct equipment in case the workers find themselves facing the same situation.


The company was fined £15,000 with £800 costs, with judge Gemma Loughran saying that it is important for an employer to provide a safe place of work. Safe conditions may require safety equipment, or even specialist workwear.

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