Farmer fined £25,000 after hay bale death

A farmer has been ordered to pay over £25,000 after a friend of his was crushed to death by a 600kg bale of silage.

Ian Nourish, of Bleak House Farm, near Great Glen, Leicestershire, was fined £20,000 by Harborough Magistrates Court and ordered to pay £5,076 costs after admitting breaking health and safety laws.

The accident happened on 20 January 2009, when retired insurance broker David Baker was helping to feed cattle at the farm. The court heard that 64-year-old Mr Nourish was using a tractor to move bales of silage in a shed.

“The defendant was operating machinery when he looked around to find Mr. Baker trapped under a bale,” said Alan Hughes, prosecuting. The farmer immediately rang 999, but his 65-year-old friend – who helped out on the farm for free up to twice a week – was declared dead at the scene.

An HSE investigation decreed that regulations had been broken because Mr. Baker, who was not an experienced farm worker, had not been trained in the risks involved in unloading bales. The investigation also found that Mr. Nourish should have made sure that his friend was kept away from the stack, which was unstable, while the bales were being moved.

“Farming is a dangerous occupation,” said Mr. Hughes. “Over the past decade 450 people have been killed throughout the country.”

Sentencing Nourish, magistrate Terry Cane said: “The aggravating features in this case were your negligence and that there was a tragic death… We will fine you the maximum £20,000 that we can impose.”

The court heard that Nourish – who also faces a civil case for damages – had been farming for over 40 years and had had a good safety record. He had been attending HSE safety courses since the incident.

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