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October 27, 2010

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Farm director “could have done more” to prevent accident

A farm worker had to have his leg amputated after he got caught in the blades of a harvesting machine.

On 9 November 2009, the 23-year-old temporary worker was helping to collect maize at Skipsters Hagg Farm at Appleton-le-Moors, near Pickering, which was owned by GR Turnbull & Sons. He was driving a silage trailer adjacent to a forage harvester, which was being operated by farm director, Peter Turnbull.

During the work a blockage occurred in the cutting disc of the harvester, and Turnbull attempted to clear it by reversing the drive mechanism. When that failed, he left the cab and attempted to clear the blockage by hand, with the machine still running. The temporary worker was helping to clear the blockage when the cutting blade stuck his leg. An air ambulance attended the scene and the injuries were so serious his leg had to be amputated at the site.

HSE inspector Charlie Callis revealed the incident could have been avoided if Turnbull had isolated the machine before attempting to clear the blockage. He said: “Incidents of this kind are all too common in the farming industry, and the outcomes are inevitably equally horrific.

“Farmers are under pressure to bring in the crop, and time spent shutting down and making safe a machine may, incorrectly, be considered time wasted. Taking unnecessary risks like this is never a sensible option, and Mr Turnbull could and should have done more to mitigate those risks.”

Peter Turnbull appeared at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court on 25 October and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.11(1)(b) and reg.11(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to isolate the blades and for not protecting workers from accessing the dangerous parts of the machine. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1698 in costs.

In mitigation, Turnbull said he had no previous convictions and deeply regretted the incident. The company subsequently acquired the services of a safety consultancy, which carried out a full safety audit at the farm. A fresh risk assessment was completed as part of the audit, which led to the introduction of a safe system of work.

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13 years ago

Surely it would be obvious that the vehicle needed to be switched off to clear the blockage safely? It’s amazing nobody was killed. I’m surprised the HSE didn’t issue an enforcement notice.

13 years ago

Yet another accident caused by something which you never hear mentioned “officially”
The term I use is “Can’t be bothered syndrome”
All too often accidents are caused because someone could not be bothered to do it the correct way.
From failing to shut down the machinery in the above report to not using the correct tool for a job because it was elsewhere and they “couldn’t be bothered” to go and fetch it; this is a real problem in the workplace and needs to be highlighted.