Pig farm fined £16k after worker crushed by bales

A farmworker says he “doesn’t have a life anymore” after being crushed by straw bales.

Paul Teale, 40, from Easingwold, North Yorkshire, suffered four broken ribs, a torn tendon, lacerations and other crush injuries when straw bales fell on him in November 2012.

Mr Teale, who is married with a teenage son, was trying to remove a bale from a 7m (23ft) haystack when two of the bales toppled off and fell on him at Pilmoor Grange Farm, near York.

He had been working alone and in the dark and had to drag himself across the farmyard to get reception on his mobile phone so he could summon help.

Driffield-based Pockmor Ltd, which operates a pig farming business at the rented Pilmoor Grange site, was fined £16,000 at York Crown Court on Friday (14 February) after admitting serious health and safety failings in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

York Crown Court heard that Mr Teale worked part-time at Pilmoor Grange Farm and one of his regular jobs was to replace the straw bedding in the pig sheds.

He was using a loader to transport the bales, which had no protective cage against falling objects, when the accident happened.

Mr Teale has since had a spinal cage inserted and suffered a series of heart attacks. He is now permanently disabled and is unable to return to work.

“Physically, the accident has totally destroyed me,” said Mr Teale, in a victim impact statement.

“I am currently the best I will ever be and the doctors have said I could still be paralysed at any time in my life by any kind of impact injury. I am in pain 24/7 and will be on painkillers for the rest of my life.

“My home and social life has been severely affected. I used to go mountain biking and running but can’t anymore in case I fall and cause an impact injury.

“I do not have a life anymore, it is just an existence. I cannot stand for long periods… I cannot do physical work… I cannot do farm work, which was the love of my life, or my brickyard job.

“I hope to be able to go back to work but it is difficult because I just cannot do physical labour anymore.”

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said: “This was a preventable incident that has had a permanent life-changing impact on a previously fit and hard-working man, with the consequent devastating effects on his wife, son and wider family.

“Agriculture has the second highest rate of deaths of all sectors – only construction is higher – and there were 29 fatalities in the country in 2012/13.

“Pockmor Ltd had not properly assessed the risks involved in moving straw bales or put in place a robust system of work to do so. It also failed in its duties to ensure their farmworkers were adequately trained to use the machinery and instructed in a safe method of carrying out this task.”

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