A farming business has been fined £30,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a concrete beam.
Trevor “Ted” Elson, of A.A Clifton, was fatally injured on 13 March 2018, while working with colleagues to move 300kg, six-metre long concrete beams for an extension at Haguelands Farm, in Kent.
The business is a mixed-use farm, including potato crops and vining peas, as well as growing fresh produce for its farm shop.
Describing the tragic events, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated: “Whilst on the trailer, attaching lifting chains to unload a beam, the deceased tripped and fell from the edge, catching one of the beams which was unstable from the way previous beams had been removed. This beam then fell from the trailer, landing on his upper body and crushing him to death.”
An investigation by the HSE found that the operation to move the beams had been carried out at short notice and had not been properly planned.
The employees were left decide how to do it themselves, according to the HSE, leading to an unsafe system of work, while none of them had been trained in lifting and slinging operations.
A.A Clifton pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, and was fined £30,000 with full costs of £5446.50.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Stephen Green said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a long-term employee. It could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.”