Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court has fined two farmers £9,000 and ordered both to pay costs of £3,560 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
A series of health and safety failings caused a contract worker to sustain serious head injuries in a four metre fall. The contractor had been employed to install a floor in a barn at a farm in Llandysul during the summer of 2012.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident revealed that the floor of the cattle shed was to be erected over an existing slurry pit. The contractor had erected concrete supporting pillars in the slurry pit, and then laid wall panels across the pillars. The panels were not designed for floors. Whilst standing on the construction, the panels gave way and the contractor fell injuring his head and required hospitalisation for a period of two months.
The Court heard that the two farmers failed to appoint a construction and design specialist to advice on the suitability of building materials and the safety of the construction. Furthermore, the farmers neglected to have any design and construction plans, carry out any essential risk assessments, supervise, train or provide safety devices to prevent falls.
Additionally, the farmers failed to check the qualifications of the contractor in operating a 25 tonne crane and had omitted to annually service the crane for 10 years.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector said
“Farmers cannot ignore their legal duties for health and safety when arranging construction work on their farms. The contractor in this case suffered life-threatening injuries and has yet to make a full recovery.”
“They took on the responsibilities of a principal contractor for planning, managing and monitoring the health and safety aspects of the construction work, and in all these respects they failed significantly.
“If farmers use contractors for any work they simply cannot tell them what to do and let them get on with it. Both the client and the contractor have legal duties for health and safety that can’t be passed to each other by contract. This means they have to work with each other to make sure the job is done safely. Farmers must always question their contractors about their health and safety arrangements.”