Policeman looking at a quad bikeLibrary picture ©Tim Scrivener

A Devon farming company has been fined after the fiancée of one of the company directors suffered life-changing head injuries in a quad bike crash at one of its farms.

GNB Farms, of South Molton, Devon, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £483 court costs over the incident.

Exeter Magistrates Court heard that the director’s fiancée was hospitalised for 10 days and was unable to return to work for seven months after the crash when the all-terrain vehicle she was driving rolled, throwing her into the road.

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She was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash while working at one of the company’s farms in mid-Devon.

The company failed to report the injuries to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which only became aware of the incident after an inquiry by Devon and Cornwall Police.

During the joint HSE and police investigation, it became clear that the ATV had been “poorly maintained”, the court heard.

A police vehicle examiner described the vehicle as being in a “dangerous and unroadworthy condition” with longstanding defects to the brakes and steering. 

“If you have an accident on an ATV wearing a helmet could save your life or prevent a serious head injury.” 
Simon Jones, HSE

It was also discovered that the director’s fiancée had received no formal training in the use of an ATV and had not been provided with a helmet.

GNB Farms pleaded guilty at Exeter Magistrates’ Court to breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, and the Health and Safety at Work Act. 

After the hearing, the prosecuting HSE inspector Simon Jones said the woman suffered “entirely preventable” injuries and she was lucky to escape death.

Mr Jones added: “ATVs are incredibly useful to the farming industry but it is essential that they are properly maintained with regular checks to ensure they are safe.

“Farmers should not wait for something to go wrong before maintaining an ATV. 

“Anyone who uses an ATV should be properly trained and always wear a helmet.

“If you have an accident on an ATV wearing a helmet could save your life or prevent a serious head injury.”