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Safety failings led to farm worker's injury

A Lincolnshire farmer and an agricultural machinery supplier have been fined after a young casual worker had three tendons in his right hand severed by a potato crusher.

The 25 year-old man, who does not wish to be named, had been working for farmer Timothy Dean, 55, at Waterloo Farm, Wilsford, Sleaford, to help with the potato harvesting, on 15 June 2009.

Grantham Magistrates' Court was told that a potato crusher, designed and built by Grimme (UK) Ltd., had been fitted on the potato harvester but had no guard in place to protect workers against dangerous moving parts.

On the first day of using the crusher it kept getting blocked with stones. The team decided that each time a stone got stuck, they would signal the harvester driver, who would isolate the power on the machine, and the workers would reach into the crusher and knock the stones out using a lump hammer.

At one point when the crusher blocked, the young worker signalled the tractor driver, who stopped. However the driver had stopped for another reason and hadn't isolated the power on the crusher. When the worker put his hand in it got caught up in the machinery severing the tendons.

The young worker has since regained some use of his hand.

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) magistrates heard that Grimme (UK) Ltd. supplied the crusher attachment to farmer Timothy Francis Stuart Dean. There were defects found with the machine in that there was no safety guard to stop people accessing the dangerous moving parts and an instruction manual wasn't provided.

HSE found that Timothy Dean had failed to properly assess the risks entailed in the work and hadn't got a safe system of work for the farm workers.

Timothy Francis Stuart Dean of Thorpe Drive, South Rauceby, Sleaford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,566.

Grimme (UK) Ltd., of Station Road, Swineshead, Boston, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £16,000 with costs of £15,000.


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