Farmer dies after fall from ladder while cleaning combine

An elderly farmer has died after falling from a ladder while he was cleaning a combine harvester.

Arthur Widdowson suffered the fatal fall on 21 August on a farm in the Derbyshire hamlet of Nether Handley, during the busy harvest season.

Details of the 88-year-old’s tragic death were only made public this week by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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

A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We received a call at 11.56am on 21 August to Belle Vue Farm in the area of Nether Handley, Sheffield.

“The caller reported that a gentleman had fallen from a ladder.

“We sent a crewed ambulance and transported the patient to Sheffield Northern General Hospital.”

An HSE spokesperson said: “HSE continues to investigate this death alongside Derbyshire Police, who still have primacy as per the work-related death protocol.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Mr Widdowson’s death.

Falls from height in the food and farming industry is the second highest cause of fatal injury, comprising about 30% of fatal accidents.

Every year at least eight people die falling from a height while working in agriculture. Those who survive often suffer broken bones and life-changing injuries.

Work at height: preventing falls

Falling from height is one of the biggest causes of workplace death and life-changing injury in agriculture.

Although falls are often associated with roof work, falls from ladders, vehicles and machinery are also common.

  • Avoid work at height – can the job be done some other way – for example, from the ground using long-handled equipment?
  • Select the right equipment for working at height – for example, use a tower scaffold or mobile elevating work platform
  • Ladders should not be the first choice if there is a safer way of doing the job; only use ladders where they can be used safely
  • When buying machinery and vehicles ask for well-designed access and think about how you will be able to get to the high parts of a machine to maintain it safely
  • Wear well-fitting, slip-resistant safety footwear when getting into vehicles or when working on vehicles.

(Source: HSE agriculture)