Company heavily fined after worker seriously injured in silo accident

hseA company has been heavily fined after a worker was seriously injured in an accident whilst unblocking a silo full of wheat.

Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited was ordered to pay fines and costs of over £10,000 after an employee’s leg was almost severed when the accident occurred.

On the day in question the employee, who did not wish to be named for personal reasons, was working for Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited. He had been ordered to clear a blockage in a silo and climbed inside order to do so. However, upon climbing into the silo the rotating auger fired up and start to sweep round, pulling him towards the middle of the silo. The employee initially managed to escape from the auger but his clothing caught on the blades of the machine, pulling him back down and in again. He then suffered severe lacerations to his left foot and lower left leg before he managed to drag himself out of the machine and turn it off. His lower left leg was subsequently amputated a week later due to the severity of the injuries that he had suffered.

The Health and Safety Executive was notified of the accident and investigated. Their investigation found that there had been a number of breaches of health and safety legislation by the company, including a failure to provide the employee with adequate training and instruction, and a failure to provide him with the proper equipment to allow him to undertake his work. The HSE therefore recommended that Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited be prosecuted for these failures.

The case came to the Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on 18 January 2016, with Clynderwen and Cardiganshire Farmers Limited pleading guilty to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £10,000 and to pay the prosecution’s cost up to a total of £1,396.

HSE inspector Simon Breen gave the following statement after judgment had been given: “The sweep auger that caused the damage to the employee was not adequately isolated, in practice, and the employees did not have sufficient information, instruction and training to safely carry out the annual cleanout of the grain silos.”

Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers have an obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, for example by providing them with adequate training, supervision and equipment to allow them to undertake their job safely. A failure to take such reasonably practicable steps can potentially lead to criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit if an employee is subsequently injured partly or wholly because of these failures.”

The original HSE article on this case can be found here.