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Farming company fined £50,000 for Health & Safety breach

View profile for Spencer Davis
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On 10 March 2017, a farming company pleaded guilty for breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 at Norwich Crown Court.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the farm company had failed to adequately identify and manage the deadly risks associated with cleaning grain stores. The HSE found that there was no safe system of work in place for this task nor had suitable training in how to complete it safely been provided. The HSE found that it would be safer and be reasonably practicable to clean grain bins from the outside, rather than inside them.

On 9 July 2014, a farm employee took turns with a colleague to clean inside grain bins. The employee was standing on top of the bin and used a broom to clean down the exposed inner surfaces. The employee used a harness fitted with a fall-arrest lanyard which was secured to a ladder inside the bin.  The employee sank into the grain which was emptying slowly through a small opening at the bottom of the bin several feet below its surface. The lanyard untied and extended, which meant that the employee sank further into the grain bin. Although colleagues and the emergency services tried to assist, their efforts of rescuing the employee were unsuccessful.

The farming company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £22,000 to the HSE.

This case serves as a warning to farmers/employers of the need to ensure sufficient safety checks, safety measures and training put in place for their employees. Failing to do so could have serious consequences.

Gepp & Sons have been advising agricultural clients for many generations. Edward Worthy and his agricultural team would be pleased to hear from you with any farming related queries on 01245 228124 or worthye@gepp.co.uk     

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.