Farmers have been told to ensure casual workers are properly trained to use equipment and that they are aware of safe stop procedures.
The plea from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) comes after an Essex farming partnership was fined following an accident where a casual worker’s arm was pulled into a potato grading machine.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how on October 24 2017, the agency worker was seriously injured when he fell on to the cleaning rollers of a potato grading machine at Mill House Farm, West Tilbury.
The 34-year-old worker had been clearing potatoes off the rollers but the machine had not been isolated from its power source and it was restarted while the worker was still in a dangerous area.
He fell on the rotating rollers and his arm was drawn in up to the shoulder before the machine could be stopped.
An HSE investigation found that the farm business – CH Cole & Sons (Mill House) – did not employ safe systems of work to prevent an inadvertent start-up of the machine during the routine cleaning task.
It also found that farm workers were not given adequate training and information about the use of the machine and that any available worker would carry out the clearing of potatoes by following the unsafe system of work.
The business pled guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000.
“The worker involved in this incident sustained a serious and potentially life-changing injury, but the outcome could have been much worse,” said HSE inspector Saffron Turnell.
“This investigation highlights and consolidates the important and consistent guidance HSE provides to the agricultural industry about the safe stop of machinery and plant, and companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those that fall below the required standards.
“As farms start to plan for the holiday season, this case is also a timely reminder of ensuring casual workers are adequately shown how to operate in a safe system of working and the importance of safe stop procedures.”
This week, HSE announced plans to send inspectors to farms to check that they are doing all they can to protect against the risks from cattle and that they would not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.