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June 14, 2009

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Faulty quad bike kills farm worker

A farm worker was killed in a quad-bike accident after he lost control of the vehicle and collided with a tree.

Grant Shannon, 34, was a dairy assistant at Kelloe Mains Farm in Berwickshire, Scotland. He had only been working at the farm for three days when the accident took place on 14 June 2007.

On the day of the incident Mr Shannon was asked to move cattle from one part of a field to another by using a quad bike. He had never driven one of the vehicles before and was given no training by the farm. He followed a colleague, who was also riding a quad bike, to the field, but on route he lost control of the vehicle and collided with a tree.

The accident was un-witnessed as his colleague was driving ahead of him, but it is thought that Mr Shannon was thrown head first into the tree on impact. Two other colleagues saw from a distance that the bike was wrapped around the tree and rushed to help him. They attempted to resuscitate him but he died at the scene from massive head injuries.

HSE inspectors visited the site and found that Mr Shannon had not been wearing a protective helmet when the accident occurred. They also discovered that the quad bike had a number of defects, which included incorrect tyre pressure, four worn tyres, and ineffective rear brakes. The farm was issued a Prohibition Notice, ordering it to make the necessary repairs to the bike before it could be returned to service.

Farm owner, R&J McDonald, appeared at Jeburgh Sheriff Court on 5 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s33(1)(a) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £6650. No costs are awarded in Scotland.

In mitigation, the firm entered an early guilty plea and had no previous convictions. It has complied with the terms of the Prohibition Notice and now ensures that no employees use the bikes without receiving training from a recognised training company.

HSE inspector, Gillian McLean, said: “Mr Shannon’s death could easily have been prevented. Prior to using an all-terrain vehicle the user must have received adequate, formal training and must ensure that the vehicle is in good mechanical condition — pre-ride checks by the operator can ensure that this is the case. The user should also wear a helmet.”

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