In our personal injury department we are seeing a rising number of accidents occurring on farms. Recent statistics published by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the agricultural sector had one of the largest share of work-related fatality deaths. During April 2016- March 2017 (27 fatal injuries to agricultural were recorded out of a total of 137 work related deaths).
Our personal injury department has seen a variety of workplace accidents occurring on farms and recently dealt with a number of claims resulting in injury and death to farm workers. Below are three examples of the cases which we have been instructed which demonstrate that safe practices could have easily avoided incidents occurring. Looking after farm workers, farm equipment and putting in safe systems of practice may be time-consuming but will ultimately save injury and lives.
In our first case, the Claimant worked on a farm and was required to cut the grass using a tractor lawn mower. The lawn mower was defective as one of the tyres had a severe puncture. There was no other lawn mower available, and the Claimant was forced to pump up the tyre. Unfortunately, the tyre deflated as the Claimant was working, resulting in the mower becoming unbalanced and the Claimant fell off when mowing over a small hole and severely injured his shoulder.
This claim shows the importance of inspecting farming equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose. In other industries, there are more stringent procedures in place for checking and maintaining work equipment, under the Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 and Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Another claim our injury department dealt with related to an unsafe system of work.
In our second case, the Claimant worked on a farm and was instructed to move some cage netting. The netting was attached by rope to a vehicle. The Claimant was instructed to act as a corner post so the netting could be moved at a 90-degree angle. As the netting was moved our client’s legs became trapped in it causing his body to twist and he fell to the ground resulting in a severe knee injury.
This claim shows the importance of ensuring your employees practice a safe system of work and training is also provided to employees on safe systems of work. The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations reinforces The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 offers guidance to employers on Health and Safety in the workplace. It is important that every place of work, even farms ensure they undertake regular and appropriate risk assessments and keep proper records to ensure the safety of their employees.
In our final case, the Claimant was delivering grain to a farm. The grain was stored in a hopper on the back of the lorry which tipped upwards to deliver the grain into the silo. While in the process of tipping the hopper, it came into contact with overhead power cables which resulted in electrocution. The Claimant died instantly. In this case, there were clear breaches of The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which not only resulted in a claim for compensation for the Claimant’s family but also prosecution by the HSE and a large fine.
Each of these cases shows that with some thought and care, the incidents could have been avoided. This would have prevented life changing injuries occurring and, in the last case, saving a life. Much of health and safety is common sense and having a keen eye on working practices around the farm. As stated earlier, it might be time-consuming but generally, it is not expensive to ensure farm equipment and working practices offer, not only the best way to perform tasks but the safest way to conduct the working business of a farm.