Kilsaran Concrete, based in Ireland, was fined €125,000 in 2016, following the death of an employee, Barry Gargan. The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, for failing to ensure the safety and welfare of its workers.

The case heard that Gargan was working on a wet cast production line, comprising automated moving equipment located inside a guarded safety cage. Gargan had been instructed to work inside the caged area and was killed instantly when a hydraulic arm crushed him against a vibrating table.

A Kilsaran Concrete manager, Carl Griffin, was ordered to pay €10,000 after he admitted instructing Gargan to work inside the guarded area.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions appealed to the Court of Appeal against the leniency of the sentence. The court agreed and increased it by €875,000 to €1,000,000.

It was reported that Justice John Edwards said the company had prioritised profits above employees’ welfare and that there had been a “wilful neglect of the duty to ensure the safety of Kilsaran Concrete’s employees and a calculated decision to take unjustified risks”.

He said the “impugned practices were not merely condoned, they were encouraged and indeed participation in them was required by a member of senior management”.

He concluded that the original fine imposed by the Circuit Court judge was inadequate and “unduly lenient” and that the seriousness of the offence warranted a €2m (£1.7m) fine, which was halved in light of the company’s guilty plea, cooperation, corrective measures taken and its good safety record.

Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority, said: “A fine of this size sends a clear signal that the safety, health and welfare of workers is of paramount importance and cannot be disregarded.

“This accident was caused by a deliberate breach of safety procedures and should not have happened.

There is a clear message here for employers, that courts are taking Health and Safety breaches very seriously, and there is a trend for an increased level of fines.

Clearly this has a heavy impact on an organisation’s finances, but also an impact on their reputation and the adverse publicity that is attached to it.