Farmworker dragged into wheat silo loses leg

A wheat and barley blending plant has been fined £10,000 after a worker lost part of his leg following an accident in a wheat silo.

Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court heard the employee was working for Welsh farming co-op Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited (CCF) when he suffered a serious injury.

The court heard how the worker had entered the wheat silo to clear a blockage. But as he did so, the rotating auger started to sweep and pull him down.

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At first, he escaped but was caught by his clothing and pulled down towards the centre of the silo again.

Most of his clothes were ripped off, but he managed to escape and switch off the auger before he was found.

The worker, who has not been named, suffered severe lacerations to his left foot and lower leg leading to surgical amputation a week later.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, which happened on 9 July 2014, found there was inadequate instruction and training into the electrical and mechanical isolation of the auger.

Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited, of Clynderwen, Pembrokeshire, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,396 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Speaking after the incident, HSE inspector Simon Breen said: “The sweep auger that caused the damage to the employee was not adequately isolated, and the employees did not have sufficient information, instruction and training to safely carry out the annual cleanout of the grain silos.

“Duty holders should consider the risks posed by infrequent but necessary work activities as much as those of day-to-day procedures and practices.”

According to its website, CCF is a farmer-owned co-operative trading across Wales and its borders, providing a substantial range of farming products.

It operates 17 retail stores located across Wales and has its own feed-blending plant near Cardigan.