• Robert Spicer

Bristol health and safety death prosecution

Those who mock the “elf’n safety culture” would be well advised to read the following:

Farm tractor death: £80,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v J & E Montgomery Ltd (2013) Bristol Crown Court, June 18

J & E Montgomery Ltd, a farming company, has been fined in relation to the death of a young farm worker in a tractor incident.

Significant points of the case

• In June 2009 Kim Webb, aged 26,an employee of Montgomery, was working on a farm near North Cadbury in Somerset. She was driving a tractor on a sloping field. The tractor had no seat belt, cab or roll over bar.

• Ms Webb was checking cattle in a number of fields. The tractor rolled over twice and crushed Ms Webb, causing fatal injuries.

• The tractor had no rollover protection. Brake pedals on the tractor could not be linked together. This made it unsuitable for road driving.

• There was a lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessments for the type of work being carried out.

• There was no safe system of work for the tasks which employees were required to carry out using the tractor.

• No effective training had been provided.

• There had been a failure of management control, oversight and supervision in relation to use of the tractor.

• Ms Webb’s supervisor had no formal training qualifications to instruct her in the use of the tractor.

• The company had allowed the tractor to be used without a roll bar and had failed to monitor the use of the tractor in a sloping field.

The company was fined £80,000 plus £40,000 costs for a breach of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

A spokesperson for the HSE is reported to have commented after the case that the tragic incident highlighted once again the dangers involved in agriculture. Between 40 and 50 workers are killed on British farms every year. That is nearly one person per week, which is a higher death rate than construction or manufacturing.

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