Farm partnership fined after child injured by ATV

A Devon farming partnership has been ordered to pay more than £33,000 after a young boy suffered a serious leg injury while travelling in an all-terrain vehicle.

The nine-year-old boy was travelling as a passenger in the ATV when the vehicle overturned, trapping his leg between the ground and the rollover protection bars.

The child suffered a serious break in his lower leg and sustained an open wound that required a skin graft to be taken from his back to heal.

See also: Health and safety – farm and work vehicles

The young boy spent a fortnight in hospital and required weeks of physiotherapy.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the most likely cause of the overturn was the inexperience and age of the driver, who was 13 and had no formal training.

Powerful machine

The vehicle was a powerful adult-sized machine provided for farmwork and should not have been used by or travelled in by the children.

EC Haste of Shebbear, Beaworthy, Devon, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety rules and has been fined £28,333 and ordered to pay costs of £5254.00.

The manufacturer’s instructions and signage on the machine made it clear it was not suitable for use by under-16s and that children should not be carried as passengers.

Speaking after the hearing at Exeter magistrates court, HSE inspector Emma O’Hara said: “Farms are first and foremost a workplace and children should be kept safe.”

Rules ignored

“Most farming incidents could have been avoided if simple precautions had been taken, and such precautions have long been known and are widely published by HSE and our industry partners.

“Children should not be carried as passengers on ATVs.”

No child under 13 should use an ATV for work and children over 13 should only use appropriate-sized lower-power ATVs after formal training.

In a statement, the HSE reiterated: “Children should not be in the workplace, it is illegal for under 13s to ride on agricultural vehicles/machinery, and work equipment like ATVs should not be used by children.”

It added: “HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards, especially where children are involved.”