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Farmer fined following teenager’s quad bike death

Date:
10 January 2013

A farmer on Dartmoor failed to properly maintain a quad bike which was later involved in a fatal collision.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that 17-year-old Phillip Nyhan was riding the quad given him to use at Runnage Farm, on Dartmoor when he was in collision with a car on a minor road near Postbridge on 7 June 2007. He died of his injuries later in hospital.

Farmer Philip Coaker pleaded guilty to not maintaining the quad bike in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Phillip Nyhan, of Wotter, was an apprentice for Moorskills Farming Project Ltd when he was sent to work at Runnage Farm, where he was given instruction on using the quad.

The police investigation found that about three weeks before the accident, the rear brakes of the vehicle broke, but Mr Coaker decided the quad was still safe to use with caution. However, the court heard that the defects with the quad bike did not have a direct bearing on Philip’s death which was caused by the head on collision between the quad bike and the car.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said: "It is essential that quad bikes are properly maintained. If a quad is not in full working order it should not be used. In this case Mr Coaker should have taken the vehicle out of use until the back brake was fully repaired.

"Sadly, although Phillip Nyhan had access to a helmet that he was told to wear, he was not wearing one when the accident happened. This tragic case also highlights the need for farm workers to always wear a helmet when riding a quad bike."

Philip Coaker, of Runnage Farm, Postbridge pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £250 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.

Further information and safety advice on using quad bikes can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/topics/transport.htm#_Quad_bikes

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent 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. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

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