Farm business to pay £35k after worker crushed to death

A Kent farming business has been ordered to pay more than £35,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a concrete beam.

Trevor “Ted” Elson of AA Clifton Limited was working with other employees to move 6m-long concrete beams from the farmyard to the farmhouse, where an extension was under construction, at Haguelands Farm, Burmarsh, Romney Marsh.

Each beam weighed more than 300kg and needed to be lifted by a mechanical telehandler, Folkestone Magistrates Court heard.

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Truck with scaffolding poles in front of farmhouse


While on the trailer, attaching lifting chains to unload a beam, Mr Elson tripped and fell from the edge, catching one of the beams, which was unstable after the way previous beams had been removed.

This beam then fell from the trailer, landing on his upper body, and crushed him to death on 13 March 2018.

AA Clifton is a mixed-use farm that grows potatoes, vining peas and fresh produce for its farm shop.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the operation to move the beams was carried out at short notice and had not been properly planned.

The workers were left to decide how to do it themselves, leading to an unsafe system of work. None of them had been trained in lifting and slinging operations.

AA Clifton Limited, of Burmarsh, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £30,000, with costs of £5,446.50.

‘Easily avoidable’

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Green said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a long-term employee. It could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place.

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.”

Tom Price, the NFU’s farm safety and transport adviser, said: “The message should specifically underline the importance of using people who know what they are doing; normally a professional contractor. Also the importance of planning and organising lifting operations.”