Chelmsford Crown Court has fined an Essex based farming company a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay £28,437 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The fatal incident occurred in May 2012 when a farm worker leaned onto the back of a hydraulic vehicle and was struck by the tailgate causing crush injuries. The employee was not aware that a colleague was operating the tailgate at the time and there was no warning of its closure. He died at the scene.
The farming company specialised in the production of animal feed and had employed the worker for over eight years.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation highlighted that the accident was wholly preventable. Safety barriers could have been fitted at the back of the vehicle to avoid unauthorised access.
The HSE told the Court that the incident highlighted significant health and safety failings throughout the farm and served a number of notices to correct the poor practice.
These included an employee standing on a stack of pallets to clean equipment in the vicinity of reversing lorries at around the same time of the fatal incident.
The Court heard that the farming company had previously been prosecuted by the HSE when three other workers had suffered injuries including and arm amputation, a broken arm and burns whilst operating farm machinery.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Vicky Fletcher said:
“This incident should serve as a reminder that employers need to ensure they have adequate measures in place to manage health and safety at their workplace. In particular, they should always adequately assess the risk of non-routine operations to ensure suitable precautions are taken.”
For information and guidance on Health and Safety within the agricultural sector, visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/