Farm must pay £120,000 after young worker’s death

A Somerset farm must pay £120,000 in fines and costs after a young farmworker was killed while driving a tractor with no roll bar or cab.

Kim Webb, 26, from North Cadbury, was driving the tractor on a sloping field when the incident happened on 26 June 2009.

Bristol Crown Court fined her employer, JA & E Montgomery, a total of £80,000 and ordered them to pay £40,000 in costs in a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive on 18 June.

The court heard that dairy staff regularly used the tractor for their duties on the farm.

DP-picOn the day she died Ms Webb (pictured left) had been checking cattle and was returning to the farm when the tractor rolled over. The tractor overturned twice before righting itself. The driverless tractor continued moving in circles until it came to rest against a fence. Members of the public on a nearby road rushed to help and alerted the emergency services, but Ms Webb was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

An investigation by the HSE revealed the tractor had no rollover protection system (consisting of a roll bar and seat restraint) which could have protected the driver when the vehicle rolled over.

Inquiries also revealed that:

  • Brake pedals on the tractor could not be linked together, making it unsuitable to drive on the road
  • There was a lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessments for the type of work being carried out
  • No evidence of a safe system of work for jobs employees were asked to do with the tractor
  • No effective training in place for workers using the tractor
  • A failure of management control, oversight and supervision regarding the use of the tractor.

JA & E Montgomery of Manor Farm, North Cadbury, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Ms Webb’s father, Terry Webb, said: “Our family has been devastated by losing Kim. My daughter paid for this lack of care with her life. I do not want more families to go through the dreadful experience of losing a loved one needlessly. Employers must take their responsibilities to their workers seriously.”

Mr Webb added: “Inexperienced farmworkers, especially young people, must be given proper training and supervision when handling potentially dangerous machinery and not just left to get on with the job. They must also be provided with all the right safety equipment to protect them.”

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