Emergency services were called to Banham Poultry’s site in Attleborough at about 1.10am on Thursday morning (4 October), after reports two subcontractors working on the site from a pest control company had been found deceased.
Police confirmed the deaths were linked to an industrial incident at the premises that had halted train services in the local area. A police cordon remains in place around the site.
Following the incident, train company Greater Anglia tweeted that Attleborough station, which is opposite the factory, had closed due to a chemical spillage. The tweet has since been deleted.
Detective chief inspector Stu Chapman said: “Colleagues from Norfolk Fire Service continue to make the scene safe, so that detailed investigations can begin between police, fire, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to understand the circumstances that led to the men’s deaths.”
A spokesperson from Banham Poultry said: “We are deeply saddened and send our deepest condolences to their family and friends. We are working closely with the police and health and safety authorities to determine what happened, and are also conducting our own internal investigation.”
The incident followed reports that Banham was seeking a buyer for the company, putting the future of 1,000 workers at risk. The sale has been prompted by a difficult summer, during which feed prices rose, trade slowed and heavy investment in new machinery was required.
Banham has received two offers from potential buyers, but warned only one would keep jobs in Norfolk, according to a local publication.
Chief executive Martin Bromley quashed rumours that the company was entering administration and said he was determined to ensure the business’ 1,000 jobs – plus another 1,000 in the supply chain – were protected.
‘Save their souls’
“When I look those employees in the eye, I know that they are looking at me to save their souls,” Bromley told the Eastern Daily Press.
“Despite the rumours there’s a big fight going on by suppliers, employees, management and local government to get the right deal for continuity.”
However, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman warned that the banks could push in the direction of appointing administrators if a buyer isn’t found for the company.
Correction. I understand not in administration but Lloyd’s bank pushing in that direction if a buyer cannot be secured. At least two bids on the table: one would see Banham remain in Attleborough, the other not. https://t.co/ZQAR6ypWhY— George Freeman MP (@GeorgeFreemanMP) October 3, 2018
Freeman is also Minister for Life Sciences at the Department of Health and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.