An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, had failed to adequately protect a 16-year-old whilst on paid work experience.
On August 3, 2021, the teenager, Tom Cutler, was hoping to start a vehicle maintenance course at Sparsholt College after gaining some work experience at Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, Folds Farm, in the New Forest.
On that fateful day he was driving a tractor down a track when it overturned causing Tom to be thrown from the tractor (which did not have a seat belt fitted). When the dust settled, Tom found himself pinned under the roof of the tractor by his upper leg. Alone and in severe pain, his quick thinking undoubtedly saved his life due to using his belt as a tourniquet to stem bleeding; he also punched out the cab window to check his leg and managed to break off a wing mirror to enable him to turn off the tractor and prevent a fire from fuel that was escaping
Fortunately, Tom was found in time by passers-by who were able to call for assistance. The emergency services attended and after freeing him from the overturned tractor, he was taken to hospital for emergency treatment.
Tom’s dad, David Cutler, said: “Tom was only 16 when this incident happened, and it’s changed his life forever. “Had it not been for his own bravery and the amazing work by the emergency services we could have lost him.
“He spent a month in hospital and has undergone seven different operations but can’t do the things he used to do. He was a keen mountain biker and cricket player but that has all stopped.
“He doesn’t sleep properly and is more anxious; he had to put his education on hold for a year and we as a whole family have found it extremely tough.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that not only had Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited fail to adequately protect and supervise Tom but they also failed to provide Tom with adequate information, instruction, and training.
At Southampton Magistrates’ Court on 16 October, Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited of Folds Farm, Fordingbridge, New Forest pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £50,000 and costs of £9,223.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Nicola Pinckney said:
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
“The incident could so easily have been avoided by understanding the risks and carrying out a suitable risk assessment, putting in place appropriate information, instruction, and ensuring the correct control measures and safe working practices were implemented.
Read the full story - here
Both the Good to Go Safety inspection system and TakeAIM provide employees with visual reminders and essential information to improve farm safety. Our range of farming and agricultural posters
have been designed to highlight key components of farm vehicles (such as tractors, excavators, dumper trucks, trailers) which require regular inspections. These posters provide a strong visual reminder to drivers to check their tractors etc for potential faults prior to driving (such as a missing seat belt).
The introduction of a systematic vehicle maintenance and safety programme allows managers to receive a signed and dated inspection checklist which can be used as evidence of an active and up-to-date maintenance programme in the event of an accident.
Some of the basic tractor checks
covered in the book include the engine department for oil, screen wash, battery
etc; whilst lights, seat belt, mirrors, tyres
and documentation are among the other various checks and it even includes details on the driver to ensure their license is in date and that they are fit to drive – all of which can be seen to cover many of the considerations listed above in one simple and affordable solution.
The HSE guide to using tractors safely highlights a working handbrake and regular maintenance as two important safety elements. In comparison the majority of the current sample indicated that a faulty handbrake and lack of maintenance were relatively low risk issues. An unidentified fluid leak was viewed with more caution, mainly due to the potential for damage to the tractor. This indicates farmers assess the consequences of risk in broader terms than simply the risk of injury to themselves, they also evaluate the risk in terms of potential costs (e.g. repair bill) and losses (e.g. delay). This consideration of financial costs corresponds with previous research indicating farmers are risk averse in financial situations - Read the full guide here
Using the either Good to Go Safety
Tractor inspection checklists not only help you identify faults before they develop into a more costly repair / accident, but it also helps you to comply with The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 & PUWER.