Tragic incident highlights dangers involved in agriculture industry…
A young female farm worker died when her tractor overturned at a field in Somerset in June 2009.
Her employer was fined £80,000 in addition to £40,000 in prosecution costs after an investigation revealed the vehicle lacked a seat belt, cab and roll over bar that all might have prevented the tragedy.
The accident victim had been driving around a sloped field in North Cadbury to check on cattle on the day opf the accident when the vehicle overturned twice before coming to a stop by a fence at the side of the field.
Investigators believe that the young woman was thrown from the vehicle and crushed by it after it overturned. The investigation by the HSE discovered that the tractor lacked a rollover protection system and that there was no evidence of a suitable risk assessment or training for using the vehicle. The brake pedals were also found to be faulty and the system of work for using the tractor was found to be inadequate and endangering the safety of employees.
The company pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined a total of £80,000.
HSE Inspector Leo Diez commented after the hearing:
“This tragic incident highlights once again the dangers involved in agriculture. Between 40 and 50 workers are killed on British farms every year. That’s nearly one person per week – a higher death rate than construction or manufacturing.
“Simple steps could have avoided a needless fatality. I hope this tragedy highlights the risks of driving tractors without proper protection for drivers.
“Tractors must have some form of roll-over protection for the driver, including a cab or a roll bar and a seat restraint. Farm workers must be given training on how to use equipment properly. It is also vital that machinery is maintained and crucial items like the brake pedals, are working properly. Farmers need to supervise their employees and ensure they are aware of the risks associated with their work and how to control the risks.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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