Category Archives: Farm Machinery

Proportion of Agriculture Related Workplace Fatalities Decreases from 2014

The proportion of workplace deaths taken up by agriculture related accidents has decreased from the same period in 2014.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has released a report revealing that, in total, fifty-five employees died in Ireland in 2015 as a result of workplace related injuries.The total number of workplace fatalities in Ireland in 2015 was the same as seen in 2014. However, significant changes in the distribution of fatal accidents at work. Fatalities in agriculture accounted for eighteen reported deaths in 2015, just over half of the number seen in 2014 (30 deaths). This figure included the deaths of three children who were struck by falling objects or moving vehicles.

In contrast, construction related workplace fatalities in Ireland increased from eight in 2014 to eleven in 2015. The fishing industry also saw an increase in fatal accidents from one in 2014 to five in 2015.

Around two-thirds of work-related deaths occurred in small businesses (fewer than ten employees) or where those who died were self-employed–mainly in the agriculture, construction, and fishing industries.

The report also released figures relating to cause of death. Twenty-one of the workplace fatalities in Ireland were related to accidents involving moving vehicles, while fifteen employees were killed as a result of a fall from height and thirteen others died as a result of being crushed or trapped by machinery. Drowning was the main cause of the remaining workplace deaths.

The Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – Brian Higgisson – said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016. He said in a press release: “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change. There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

Mr Higgisson continued: “We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016.”

Company Found Guilty for Crane Accident Death

A manufacturing company has been found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, causing the death of one of its employees in a crane accident.

In July 2011, Michael Wickstead (63) of Greater Manchester was employed for Refinery Supplies Ltd. At the time of the accident, Michael had been working on manufacturing a three-tonne steel container, which was resting on a stand that was secured in place by chains hanging from an overhead crane. One of his colleagues was moving another container with an overhead crane when the two cranes collided in the air. The collision caused the container on which Michael was working to fall, crushing him underneath it.

Michael’s injuries proved fatal. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into his death, and the work environment and circumstances surrounding it. When the investigation was complete, it was revealed that there was no clear working system implemented to ensure that the employees were not at risk of being involved in crane accidents, and there was no safety mechanism implemented-such as anti-collision devices-to prevent the two cranes from crashing into each other.

Refinery Supplies Ltd-who specialise in manufacturing equipment for the lead and zinc refining industry-were prosecuted with a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by the HSE. At the Manchester Crown Court, representatives from the company pleaded guilty to the charges and for failing to ensure that the necessary precautions were implemented to prevent such deaths. The company was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.

The HSE Inspector involved with the case-Helen Jones-said:

“Michael sadly lost his life because the safety standards of his employer fell well below the minimum legal standards. “Refinery Supplies knew there was a risk of cranes colliding at the factory and, in fact, this had happened on several previous occasions without the same catastrophic result. However, the firm failed to take any action to make sure workers weren’t put at risk of being injured”.

“It’s vital that manufacturers carefully consider the dangers facing their employees and then implement safety improvements. If Refinery Supplies had done this then Michael’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

HSE Prosecutes Farm For Safety Failings

A dairy farm in Durham have been fined by the Magistrate’s Court after being prosecuted by the HSE for safety failings which resulted in an employee sustaining injuries after falling from a height.

In September 2013, Simon Atkinson (41) of Dipton, County Durham, was unloading empty milk bottles from a lorry and placing them into a storage area 1.6 metres below ground level at his local Lanchester Dairies site. Simon was working alone at the time of the incident.

While working, Simon slipped and fell through the opening of the storage area-landing on the concrete surface below him. Due to the force of the impact, Simon fractured his eye socket, and sustained several fractures to his collar bone. He also broke one of his ribs.

When he was transported to hospital, it was revealed that Simon was bleeding in his skull. He had to be put into an induced coma to remove a blood clot that had formed at the side of his brain, and he was unable to return to work while waiting for further surgery to repair damage to his spine.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident. They found that no safety measures had been taken to prevent a fall from height accident on the dairy farm, despite a risk assessment having been conducted which had notified the owners of the farm there a risk of a fall existed.

The HSE proceeded to prosecute Lanchester Dairies Ltd under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and, at Peterlee Magistrates Court, the company pleaded guilty. They admitted that they failed to implement a safe system of work and training for the unloading task.

It was revealed that there had been a fixed barrier across the doorway to the storage area two years prior to the incident, but it had been removed and never replaced. Had such a device been in place at the time of the accident, it is likely that Simon would not have sustained the injuries that he did.

Lanchester Dairies Ltd were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,690 in legal costs by the Magistrates. The HSE inspector involved in the case-Michael Kingston-commented that the company had been aware of the risks associated with the unloading operation, and had neglected to implement the simple and inexpensive measure to prevent a fall from height accident on their farm, resulting in Simon’s injury.

Heinz Fined £50,000 Following Manufacturing Plant Accident

Heinz has been fined £50,000 for health and safety violations following an accident at a manufacturing plant during which one of its workers lost their hand.

In June 2013, Alec Brackenbury (49) of Bacton, Norfolk was working in a manufacturing plant owned by Heinz in Worstead, Norfolk. He was manning a potato peeling machine when he tried to retrieve a bolt that had fallen into a slurry pump. Alec believed that the electrical supply to the slurry pump was connected to the potato peeling machine and had been isolated. Therefore, he put his right hand into the unguarded machine. The machine suddenly started to operate, severing Alec’s hand at the wrist.

Alec was immediately transported to the local Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where he received medical attention. Despite their efforts, the medical staff at the hospital were unable to save his hand. Alec had to undergo eight different operations on the stump of his hand over the two-week period following the accident. As a result of losing his hand, Alec is unable to work, drive or perform many daily tasks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into Alec’s accident. Inspectors discovered that a protective gate which should have been bolted to the top of the slurry pump was absent at the time of the accident. Had such a gate been in place, the accident would have been prevented and Alec would not have lost his hand.

The HSE inspectors prosecuted Heinz for their negligence and, at the Norwich Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £50,000 for being guilty of breaching Regulation 11(1) o the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was also ordered to pay £9,661 in costs.

The HSE Inspector involved with the case-Tony Brooks-stated: “Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury. Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury.”

Electrical Contractor Fined for Fall on a Farm Accident

Gregg Electrical has been fined £2,000 for breaching health and safety legislation that resulted in one of his apprentices falling from the roof of a barn.

In June 2013, an unnamed teenager (sixteen years old at the time of the incident) was working as an apprentice for Austin Gregg (trading as Gregg Electrical). He was working with another apprentice and Gregg himself when they were employed to install solar panels on the roof of a bran located at Leyburn Farm, North Yorkshire.

The teenager was asked to retrieve a tool from the roof of the barn on which the solar panels were installed. The teenager neglected to put a harness on to perform the supposedly simple task. While he was on the roof, the teenager stumble and fell through a partially covered roof light onto the concrete floor metres below.

The apprentice only suffered from severe bruising from his fall, despite the height from which he fell. A HSE investigation was launched into the incident, and it was discovered that Gregg had taken inadequate precautions in ensuring that an accident of this nature would not occur. Inspectors from the HSE determined that, even if the apprentice had used a safety harness, the fixing points for it were inadequate and had not been properly tested.

The Northallerton Magristrate’s Court fined the electrical contracted £2,000 with £505 in costs for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. As of yet, no injury claim for compensation for the fall form height accident on the farm has been filed by the apprentice. Since the teenager was sixteen years of age at the time of the incident, he has three years from his eighteenth birthday during which he could claim compensation for his injuries according to the Statute of Limitations for accidents such as this.

HSE Prosecutes City Council for Tractor Accident

The HSE has prosecuted Bristol City Council for health and safety violations that led to an accident in which a park employee broke her hip and sustained damage to her Achilles tendon when a tractor overturned.

In May 2012, an unnamed woman was employed as a park keeper in the Netham Park in Bristol when she was carrying out maintenance work. She was working on a tractor with a trailer attached, and applied the brake as the tractor started to descend a slope. As she braked, the tractor skidded and the park keeper swerved to avoid hitting a fence. As she did so, the tractor flipped over-throwing her from her seat.

The employee was transported to hospital to receive medical attention. It was revealed that as a result of the fall, the woman broke her pelvis and sustained a serious injury to her Achilles tendon. Due to the extent of her injuries, she was unable to return from work for a year, and was forced to take an office job on her return to work. Further surgery is required to repair the damage done to her Achilles tendon.

The HSE launched an investigation into the accident, and it was revealed that the tractor had been acquired just prior to the accident and had not yet been fitted with a seat belt. The Bristol City Council had failed to provide adequate instruction to the park keeper on how to use the machinery in a safe manner.

The HSE prosecuted the council with two beaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The defendants admitted guilt, and accepted the fine of £20,000 and costs of £4,700.

The HSE inspector involved with the case-Kate Leftly-stated that the distress and pain that the employee had endured as a result of the overturning tractor accident had been preventable. She added that the employee had trained for three years to become a park keeper, but had to give up that job in spite of her training due to the injuries that she received.

The inspector also stated that the Bristol City Council’s systems for ensuring employee safety were inadequate, and that they should have ensured that the employee was properly trained to drive the tractor and they failed to identify the need for a suitable restraint.

Combine Harvester Manufacturer Found Guilty of Negligence

The manufacturer of a combine harvester which crushed a man’s fingers-John Deere Ltd-has been found guilty of negligence in designing the machine.

In June 1995, Denis Scollard (thirty years old at the time of the accident) was employed for the agricultural contractors Thomas and William Wright. He was working for various farmers in County Limerick, collecting silage and operating a John Deere 6810 combine harvester.

While operating this piece of machinery, a grass blockage occurred. Denis attempted to clear the obstacle via the inspection hatch. As he was doing so, the combine harvester’s paddles came down inside the chute, crushing the fingers on Denis’ left hand.

After receiving treatment for his injury, Denis sought legal counsel, and made a combine harvester injury claim in 1996 against his employers and received €430,000 in personal injury compensation. Thomas and William Wright subsequently made a claim against the companies from whom the machine was leased and supplied to recover what they had paid to their employee.

The leasing company-AIB Finance and Leasing-and the supplies-Geary’s Garage Ltd-in turn sought indemnity from John Deere Ltd who manufactured the combine harvester which injured Denis.

The manufacturer denied liability for Denis’ injuries, arguing that the accident could not have occurred as claimed as the paddles would not have crushed Denis’ fingers if he had followed the instructions published in the combine harvester’s manual.

They claimed that there was no scientific basis to explain how the paddles could have moved if Denis had disengaged the engine of the combine harvester as he claimed that he had. Despite their defence, Ms Justice Mary Irvine found in favour of AIB Finance & Leasing and Geary’s Garage after hearing evidence from two eye witnesses and a medical expert in the High Court in December 2007.

The judge ruled that John Deere Ltd had been negligent by “designing, manufacturing and selling a combine harvester with a design defect”. They were ordered to settle the injury claim; commenting that Denis´ injuries would have been far worse if the engine of the combine harvester had been engaged.

The decision was appealed by John Deere Ltd, and last week the case was heard at the Supreme Court before Mr Justice Frank Clarke. The judge upheld the High Court’s verdict that Denis’ injuries were a foreseeable consequence of negligence. They ordered John Deere Ltd to reimburse the €430,000 paid in settlement of Denis’ combine harvester injury claim.