Cumbrian farm fined £100,000 over worker’s death

A north Cumbria farm partnership has been fined £100,000 after a worker died in a tractor accident.

Stephen Toppin, 57, of Penrith, suffered fatal head injuries at dairy farm Wragmire Bank, near Cumwhinton, Carlisle, in January 2017.

Mr Toppin, whose main job was rearing calves, stepped out of a livestock shed into the path of a tractor towing a straw-laden trailer as it travelled through a narrow passageway.

See also: Safety culture change needed after spate of on-farm deaths

On Friday (26 October), Carlisle Crown Court heard that JS Wood and Son admitted a health and safety breach but the teenage tractor driver was not at fault.

The partnership accepted failing to ensure the workplace “was organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner”.

Prosecutor David Temkin told the court: “The defendant hadn’t undertaken any – or any proper – workplace transport risk assessment.”

Had such an assessment been done, it would have identified that the calf shed exits led into the main traffic route and taken into account that Mr Toppin was 70% deaf and wore a hearing aid, Mr Temkin added.

JS Wood and Son has since entirely complied with improvement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive, introducing speed limits and warning signs, and “gone beyond” its obligations by creating a pedestrian walkway.

The partnership was represented in court by John Wood, 63, who was said to be “incredibly distressed” by the incident.

It was also ordered to pay £7,310 costs.