A Suffolk farming partnership has been ordered to pay fines by Ipswich Magistrates’ Court due to a worker suffering injury whilst working at Cherry Gate Farm, Norwich Road, Mendlesham on 7 November 2011. The worker, Luke Parker, 29 from Eye, was working as an egg collector for Green Label Farms LLP, when he noticed that one of the bird feeding lines in one of the sheds was not operating correctly.
Apparently it was not unusual for these lines to stop working and farm workers were aware of the necessary steps to take in order to make them work again. The cover of a chamber would be removed and chicken feed scooped out so that the sensor would be cleared. The rotating mechanism for carrying the feed along the lines would subsequently be activated and clear the blockage.
However, on this particular day that Mr Parker was clearing the chamber, the sleeve of his jumper got drawn into the rotating parts which pulled his hand and wrist under and around the machine. He successfully prevented the line from working again by covering the sensor with his other hand and called for help from nearby co-workers. He was badly cut which caused nerve damage and tendon damage in his arms. To this day he still suffers from pain and is unable to fully move his right wrist.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the incident and discovered that that there was no safety protocols implemented for rectifying blocked feed lines in addition to their being no safety measures in place to prevent the feed line from inadvertently starting up again.
The company was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,372 in costs after pleading guilty to two offences: breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
HSE Inspector Saffron Turnell had this to say about the incident –
“Mr Parker was lucky not to have been more seriously injured in what was an entirely preventable incident.
“The company should have had a safe system of work in place to handle blockages, which should have included isolating the power supply to the machinery before anyone put their hand inside the chamber where there were moving parts.
“A secure locking-off of the system would have also ensured the machinery could not start up once the chamber cover was removed.
“Farming is the UK’s most at-risk industry sector with on average between 40 and 50 workers killed on British farms every year. That’s a higher death rate than construction or manufacturing.”