An agri-merchant has been fined €125,000 over the death of two of its workers when they went to repair a grain silo and suffocated.
Drummonds pleaded guilty to health and safety failings after employees Terry Brennan, 19, and Paul Farrell, 34, died at the company's Knockbridge facility in Co Louth.
The pair entered an elevator pit on August 10 2009 for repairs to machinery and were overcome by a lack of oxygen in the air and high levels of carbon dioxide.
Brian Higgisson, assistant chief executive of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), said the company failed to take the necessary precautions for its workers.
""The dangers of working in confined spaces are extremely serious. Harmful gases can be present and the risk of fatalities is high," he said.
"There are clear measures that must be taken before any work in a confined space begins; starting with identifying hazards, implementing safe systems of work and then creating emergency and rescue procedures. This case showed that the company clearly failed to take these measures with tragic consequences".
Air samples from the pit showed significantly reduced levels of oxygen of 1-2% and extremely elevated levels of carbon dioxide of 18-20%. Normal atmosphere holds about 20 -21% oxygen and carbon dioxide levels at 0.03%.
Anything below 19% oxygen is dangerous and below 16% is lethal.
The company was also ordered to pay costs of €19,600 for the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) before Judge Michael O'Shea in Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court.
Drummonds had been charged under section eight of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
The investigation found that in the weeks before the incident freshly harvested grain was stored in three large silos, above ground, next to the elevator pit.
The silos had low level access chutes allowing grain to flow out to the elevator pit but also allowing the build-up of carbon dioxide to percolate from the silos into the elevator pit.