Farm fined £100,000 after woman is crushed

A farmer has been fined £100,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a reversing trailer on a Lincolnshire farm.

The worker, Asta Juodiene, 46, was among a group of 10 people preparing to plant sprouts at M Baker (Produce) Ltd, Grant’s Farm, Leverton, when she died on 15 May 2012.

A hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Monday, 21 July was told that a fellow worker was reversing the tractor and trailer to load it with module plants when the accident happened.

Mrs Juodiene’s foot became trapped in the rear wheel of the trailer, pulling her underneath. Paramedics and Mrs Juodiene’s colleagues fought to save her, but she died at the scene from head and chest injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found M Baker (Produce) Ltd had failed to carry out a written risk assessment or devise a safe procedure for reversing a vehicle when rear vision was restricted.

A spokesman for the HSE said there was a lack of relevant information, instruction and training provided to the workers about the risks of moving vehicle in the fields.

In addition, there was a lack of communication between the driver and the other workers in the field, and there was no safe procedure to follow for either drivers or workers during a reversing vehicle manoeuvre, the spokesman added.

The company no longer carries out the manoeuvre which resulted in Ms Juodiene’s death, the HSE said.

M Baker (Produce) Ltd of Main Road, Old Leake, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £18,477 in costs.

After the case, HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “This tragic incident shows what happens when risks from workplace transport are not controlled, as happened with M Baker Produce.

“The knock-on effects of this preventable tragedy cannot be underestimated. A husband has been left devastated and two daughters were left without a mother.”

Mr Ward added: “Workplace transport is a frequent source of serious or fatal incidents and employers should not be complacent about the risks. Reversing can be particularly hazardous and should be avoided where possible. A careful assessment of the risks will help identify the best way to control risks from workplace transport.”