Yorkshire Dairy Goats ordered to pay £200,000 after death of 'much loved' worker struck by reversing telehandler

A major goat milk producer has been ordered to pay £200,000 after a 'much loved and extremely valued' worker died after being struck by a reversing telehandler.

Janet McDonald, 52, who had worked at Yorkshire Dairy Goats at Seaton Ross since she was 16, suffered "catastrophic" crush injuries in the accident on on August 1 2018.

She was flown to hospital by air ambulance but died later that day.

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Yorkshire Dairy Goats, which was established in 1986, farms in excess of 3,500 goats and was a place Janet "clearly loved", Hull Crown Court was told.

Yorkshire Dairy goats at Seaton Ross Picture: Gary Longbottom

The company, which sells goat’s milk, butter, cheese and yoghurts to a number of UK shops and supermarkets, pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety at a hearing in January.

Sentencing on Friday Judge John Thackray QC said Janet's working practices had been changed in 2018 to accomodate her reduced mobility and her jobs included pressure washing, tagging the goats or vaccinating them.

The driver had been mucking out a pen and was reversing when he heard Janet calling out.

The Judge said: “He immediately got out out of his cab and ran to help Janet who was between the front and back wheels.

“She was gravely injured but was to say that she thought (the driver) was driving forwards.”

A gate had been closed to stop people coming into the area. However there were no signs to say do not enter.

The youngest of five siblings, she had been especially close to her sister Elizabeth who had been diagnosed with cancer.

The court heard that the sisters would speak every day and following Janet's death Elizabeth had counselling. She had since died.

The Judge said: "Understandably the family perception is that the death of Janet hastened the death of Elizabeth.

"Understandably, the family are particularly upset that Janet was approaching retirement and despite having worked hard throughout her life Janet did not have the retirement she was planning".

The Judge said the company "had failed to put in place measures to segregate pedestrians and vehicles and meet basic standards that are recognised in industry.

"Pedestrians and vehicles had never been segregated at the farm and so breaches had subsisted for over 30 years."

However he said the company "could not have done more" to make improvements to ensure there would never be a repeat with steps taken to train staff within six weeks of the incident.

He also said the company, which had an average turnover of £5.81m over the past four years, had been transparent and co-operative throughout the investigation.

"The company has accepted its criminal responsibility at the earliest opportunity and I am satisfied that those who are senior within the company are genuinely remorseful, he added.

He ordered the company to pay the prosecution's costs of £20,000 and a fine of £180,000.

The Judge expressed his condolences, concluding: "None of this can return Janet to her friends, family and colleagues...It is hoped that such a tragedy in such circumstances never happens again."