The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is calling on farmers to do more to protect their loved ones after an eight year old boy who fell from a vehicle on his parent’s farm in Kirkbean ended up with an amputated leg.
The company which operates the farm has today been prosecuted after the incident on 14 October 2015. Dumfries Sherriff Court heard the boy fell from a sit-astride all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on Airdie farm.
After carrying out the day to day tasks on the farm, one of the workers was asked to cut the grass on the farm’s hen range. The boy was sitting on the back of the vehicle while the grass was being cut. The employee had been cutting the grass for about 20 minutes when he stopped and noticed the boy was no longer sitting behind him. He found him on the grass with injuries to his lower right leg and called for help.
The eight-year-old’s parents were nearby and an ambulance was called. He was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow and on arrival underwent an eight-hour operation. His lower right leg could not be saved and a below-the-knee amputation was carried out. He has since been fitted with a prosthetic limb.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the driver of the vehicle had not been trained to use the ATV and the company had allowed the boy to accompany the worker on previous occasions.
A notification of contravention letter was sent to the company and an improvement notice was issued which the company complied with. J Kelly and Sons of Airdrie Farm, Kirkbean, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) (b) of the Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agricultural Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £10,000.
Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Kim Munro said:
“The Company took no action to ensure the boy was kept separate from the farm’s business activities other than being near the cattle. “There are no winners in this case. Legislation prohibiting children under 13 from riding on machines such as an ATV protects them from these dangers. Sadly, too often this is ignored and the consequences can be devastating for all involved. “We’re calling on farmers to take responsibility and own the process of identifying, managing and preventing risk in their workplace. We’ve spent recent weeks highlighting this issue, with more inspectors visiting farms across Great Britain. “While it is important that children living on farms are given the opportunity to become involved and learn about the family business, it’s crucial they are protected from the dangers involved.”
The TUC reported in 2011 that Over the last 10 years, 31 children and young people, under the age of 16, have died in work-related incidents on farm, as well as a further 12 fatalities between the ages of 16 and 18. The most common causes of death and major injury are falling from or coming into contact with vehicles and machinery, falls, drowning and asphyxiation.
The Prevention of Accidents to Children in Agriculture Regulations 1988 (PACAR) makes it illegal to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural self-propelled machines (such as tractors and quad bikes) and certain other farm machinery. However, children under 13 years old may legally ride on a trailer, or on a load carried by a trailer, if there are adequate means, such as edge protection, to prevent them falling from it.
Such a life changing injury could have been avoided.
Further guidance regarding safety in agriculture can be found on the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/index.htm