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Vereijken Logistics

Dutch tomato grower sentenced to fine of 75,000 euros for fatal elevator incident

A malfunction of the packaging robot, on the automatic transport or on a trolley stacker. Just a bit of tinkering, a little diversion and it is functioning again. Yet it can go terribly wrong. This is evident from the accident that happened three years ago at Vereijken Logistics. An employee was killed in the pallet lift. The safety measures of the installation were tampered with because of malfunctions. The company has been convicted by the court for involuntary manslaughter, violation of the Working Conditions Legislation and the Working Conditions Decree. Vereijken Logistics will be fined 75,000 euros.

An investigation showed that the automatic shutdown of the elevator had been disabled, because the elevator continuously caused malfunctions. Also, the safety sensors did not work: two blue wires ensured that the emergency stop circuits were not activated.

The entrepreneurs were not aware of this before the accident, they stated. "The lift supplier installs, maintains and remedies possible malfunctions. Nobody on our staff tinkers with the lift, that is much too technical." But that does not make a difference, according to the judge. "That they did not know, does not mean that they cannot be blamed."

The judge is of the opinion that the responsibility for the safety measures of the elevator now came to lie with the employees. The growers cannot prove that the victim had been adequately instructed. That is why they have been found guilty of the fatal accident and in violation of the Working Conditions Legislation.

A fine of 125,000 euros had been charged against the nursery. The public prosecutor thought it was not the question whether it would go wrong, only when it would go wrong. The court does not agree with that. According to the court, it is not proven that the defendant was very imprudent, negligent and careless. The judge hopes that a fine, for which a higher penalty category was used, will have a deterrent effect.

At Vereijken Logistics they investigated immediately after the accident and had a security expert check the packaging hall. It was concluded that it was properly organized. The fact that things could go so terribly wrong has had a severe impact on the company and the employees. Especially because safety is of great importance for them. "We are very sorry for what has happened," the company already announced earlier. In a short telephone response Hans Vereijken had nothing to add after he was briefly informed of the verdict. "There are no winners here, it is already sad enough that it has happened."

Read the whole verdict here (in Dutch)

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