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Ignoring known risks ends in fine for farm manager

4 April 2013

A Hampshire farm manager has been prosecuted after he was caught on camera putting two workers at risk by using the grain bucket on a telehandler to lift them up to a barn roof.

The dangerous practices of Peter Kirby, 62, of Newton Valence Farm, near Alton, were spotted and photographed by a concerned passer-by on 14 February 2012 and passed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The incident was investigated and Mr Kirby appeared at Aldershot Magistrates’ Court today (4 April) charged with breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The court was told that Mr Kirby, a farmer for more than 40 years, had put the two men at risk of injury or even death by using the bucket to raise them to work on the gable end of a barn.

Mr Kirby used the telehandler despite attending a safety day run by HSE less than a year before where a dummy had been dropped from a grain bucket attached to a forklift truck to demonstrate the risks.  

The court heard that although neither worker had been injured during the incident, Mr Kirby’s experience would have made him fully aware of the risks of using unsuitable work platforms, which are well understood in the agriculture industry.

Peter Kirby, of Woodside, Newton Valence Farm, Newton Valence, Alton, was fined £330 and ordered to pay £1,757 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Craig Varian said:

"Mr Kirby had been given quite recent training and advice by HSE and consultants and had the opportunity to use the correct equipment provided by his employer to carry out this job safety. Yet, despite all this, he lifted two men several metres in the air using an unsuitable work platform.

"Often, people about to do a job believing it will only take a few minutes take a risk in the hope that simply being careful will be enough. This display of bad practice could have resulted in serious injury, or even death, whether it lasted a couple of minutes or a couple of hours.

"The bucket has no fall protection measures and there is also the risk of being tipped out accidently. If they could not use an authorised work platform specifically designed to lift people and fitted to a telehandler then they could have used a tower scaffold.

"Agriculture is one of the top three most dangerous sectors to work in and has a high fatality rate. Falls from height are a significant contributor to that and HSE will continue to prosecute companies and individuals who fall well below the expected standards."

HSE statistics for 2011/12 show there were 33 deaths in the agriculture sector. There were 241 major injuries per 100,000 employees, just below the waste and recycling industry but above the construction sector.     

Notes to editors

Photo: The picture taken by a worried passer-by at Newton Valence Farm that was then passed to HSE.  

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work."

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