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Farm fined for young worker's death in tractor tragedy

24-06-2013

Kim Webb - young farm worker killed in tractor tragedy

A young Somerset farm worker was killed when the tractor she was driving overturned in a field.

Kim Webb, 26, from North Cadbury, was driving a tractor that had no seat belt, cab or roll over bar on a sloping field near North Cadbury when the incident happened on 26 June 2009.

On 18 June, Bristol Crown Court fined her employer, JA&E Montgomery Ltd. a total of £80,000 and ordered them to pay £40,000 in costs in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court heard that dairy staff regularly used the tractor for their duties at the farm.

On the day of the incident, Ms Webb had been checking the cattle in several fields, including Farmer’s Field, off Woolston Road. On the way back she was driving down a sloping field when the tractor rolled over. The tractor overturned twice before righting itself. It continued moving in circles until it came to rest against a fence. It is thought that Ms Webb was thrown off and crushed as the tractor overturned.

The driverless tractor was seen by passing members of the public on a nearby road, who found Ms Webb and alerted the emergency services. Ms Webb was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

An investigation by the HSE revealed that the tractor had no rollover protection system (consisting of a roll bar and seat restraint) which could have protected the driver if the vehicle rolled over.

Inquiries also revealed that:

  • Brake pedals on the tractor were not able to be linked together making it unsuitable to be driven on the road
  • There was a lack of suitable and sufficient risk assessments for the type of work being carried out
  • No evidence of a safe system of work for jobs employees were asked to do with the tractor
  • No effective training in place for workers using the tractor
  • A failure of management control, oversight and supervision regarding the use of the tractor.

Despite Kim Webb’s supervisor having no formal training qualifications to show her how to use the tractor the company still allowed the training to take place unmonitored.

The company also permitted the use of the tractor on the road and in the yard without a roll bar (in the knowledge that it was in breach of the relevant regulations) and without a seatbelt. It failed to monitor the use of the tractor and to appreciate it was being used on a sloping field.

JA&E Montgomery Ltd. of Manor Farm, North Cadbury pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £80,000.

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