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Farming partnership fined after death of teenager

18 April 2018

A farming partnership has been fined £400,000 after a teenage employee died when the tractor he was driving collided with a bridge

Cambridge Crown Court heard that Harry Christian-Allan had been employed by G W Topham & Son for three weeks before the tractor and tandem-axle trailer he was using to transport grain from the Partnership’s farm in Eltisley to another one of its farms in Weighbridge, failed to negotiate a roundabout and struck the bridge on Rusts Lane, Alconbury on 1 August 2014.

The 19-year-old sustained major injuries and later died in hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the trailer was fitted with drum type brakes that had not been correctly adjusted rendering them ineffective.

G W Topham & Son of North East Farm, Cambridge Road, Cambridgeshire, was found guilty after a trial of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The partnership was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £67,274.12.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Roxanne Barker said: “The defendant failed to implement and monitor safe systems of work. This young man’s death could have been prevented if the employer had managed the risks involved and ensured all work equipment was properly maintained.

“Many trailers are only used at harvest time and therefore this failure to maintain is likely to be widespread across the industry. Farmers are therefore reminded to ensure that they adequately maintain all work equipment including any which is not in main-stream use.”