A mother has shared her sorrow following the death of her only child while working at ‘Sunrise Eggs’ in Loughborough.
Nineteen-year-old Ben Spencer had just started working at Sunrise Poultry Farms for two weeks when he was fatally crushed between a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and a wall on 12 April 2021.
His mother, Tracy, expresses the profound impact of Ben’s death at the Sileby site, saying she wishes nothing more than to ‘curl up in a ball.’
“My life revolved around Ben because it has always been just me and him,” she said.
“I used to go out every day, even if it was just for a walk, and we used to go on family holidays, all of us with a caravan.
“Now I’ve got no life. Sometimes I walk the dog at eleven o’clock at night to avoid running into people; I just can’t face getting into a conversation with them.
“I find myself keeping my distance from everyone; I just can’t cope with the idea of feeling close to someone, even my family.
“My dreams are of Ben when he was younger, and I just yearn to be back there. Those years standing on the edge of a football pitch watching him in the freezing cold, and now I’d just go back there in a heartbeat.”
The HGV was attempting a complex manoeuvre towards a narrow thoroughfare at the Seagrave Road premises as Ben Spencer was walking towards it.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that measures in place for segregating pedestrians and moving vehicles were wholly inadequate.
Sunrise Poultry Farms, of Seagrave Road, Sileby, Loughborough, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was ordered to pay a fine of £233,000 plus costs of £8,841 at a hearing at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2023.
Ben’s tragic death continues to have a significant impact on the lives of Tracy, as well as his friends and family.
“I still can’t go into Ben’s bedroom,” Tracy said.
“It’s still the same as the last day he went to work. I can’t bring myself to make the bed and have tied the door shut so the dog can’t go in there. I have tried to make myself go in there, but I just can’t walk across the threshold.
“I cry when I leave the house and I cry when I get back because he’s not here. I hear noises and look up expecting to see Ben coming round the back.
“Sunrise Poultry was Ben’s first real job, and with it came a conversation about the future, his own home, learning to drive, and saving.
“If I could just curl up in a ball, I would.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Enforcement Lawyer Andy Siddall said:
“The company admitted failing to segregate vehicles and pedestrians at its workplace in Sileby, and that resulted in the tragic death of Ben.
“Accidents like this simply shouldn’t happen, and a mother shouldn’t have to hold the hand of her son as he lies dying in the workplace.
“So please check your workplace transport risk assessments, think carefully, and ensure that everybody goes home safely.”
HSE inspector Alex Nayar said: “Our thoughts today are with Ben’s family and friends.
“He was at the start of his working life. He should have returned home safely to them at the end of his working day, but because of the failings of Sunrise Poultry Farms Limited, he did not.
“Ben’s death could have easily been prevented if they had adequately assessed and controlled the risks associated with workplace transport, a leading cause of death in the workplace.”