Farming Company Fined Over Worker's Death

A farming company in Cheshire has been fined £50,000 after a 30-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries when a 1.5 tonne concrete panel fell on him.

Sean Bennett was helping to construct a new cowshed at Yew Tree Farm in Stanthorne when the accident happened in December 2010. He died in hospital two days later.

The owner of the farm, T Lea Sherwin Limited, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into Mr Bennett's death revealed that the lifting equipment used during the construction process was entirely unsuitable for the job.

Liverpool Crown Court heard evidence that the company had failed to carry out a proper assessment of the risks involved in the task or to make sure a safe system of work was in place. The company pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £28,585 in prosecution costs.

Jane Carroll, the investigating inspector at the HSE, said, "The company is experienced in farming – not construction – but decided it was capable of building a new cowshed. Sadly, Sean lost his life as a result.

"The project was poorly planned, and the lifting equipment provided wasn't capable of raising concrete panels weighing 1.5 tonnes. It was therefore inevitable that the bolts would snap when the panel was being lifted.

"The firm should have realised it was out of its depth and brought in a specialist contractor to carry out the work, rather than carrying on regardless and hoping for the best."

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.