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Online only: Company fined £30,000 after employee dies in crash out of work hours

A COMPANY has been fined £30,000 for breaching health and safety legislation as a result of one of its workers dying in a car crash after working 76 hours in four days.

The case is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK because the company involved, The Produce Connection, admitted breaching health and safety legislation even though the employee died outside working hours.

Mark Fiebig had worked four 19-hour days - starting early in the morning and finishing late at night. He died when his car drifted into the path of an oncoming lorry as he drove home from work in October 2002.

The court heard Fiebig was thought to be suffering from 'chronic fatigue' and had fallen asleep at the wheel. Prosecutor Pascal Bates said Fiebig had worked 11 days without a day off prior to his fatal crash. During that time he had worked on average 17 hours a day and was getting three to four hours' sleep a night. Bates said other staff were working similarly long hours.

He said: 'Workers were paid by the hour. For payroll purposes a daily note was kept of each worker's working hours. (The farm manager) had to be aware, and so did other management.'

Judge Gareth Hawksworth said the company had failed to properly monitor the hours its employees were working.

The company admitted failing to ensure the health of workers and the public. Along with the £30,000 it was also ordered to pay £24,000 costs.

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