Farmer fined after worker pulled into potato harvester

A farmer has been fined after a worker got caught in a potato harvester and suffered multiple injuries.

The worker was unblocking the combine harvester on a Kent farm when he descended on its counter-rotating rollers and was pulled leg first into the machine.

He was pinned down to the knee and suffered leg burns, a pulled hamstring, a torn calf, shattered nerves and hairline fractures in his knee and ankle.

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The incident happened during the potato harvest in August 2020, Folkestone Magistrates Court heard.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the farmer failed to implement a ‘safety shutdown procedure’ to isolate the feed and stop the movement of the rollers before the worker stopped. access it.

Alan Down, of Main Road, Sellindge, Ashford, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching the Supply and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. He was fined £4,992 plus £5,805 in costs.

‘Safe stop’ ignored

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Sam Brown said: “Too often we see incidents like this, where maintenance is being carried out on machinery under power and the principles of ‘stopping safe” and safe maintenance are ignored.

“Those who undertake maintenance work on agricultural machinery must ensure that the principles

are followed to prevent people from being exposed to the risk of injury.

The HSE said the agricultural industry accounts for around 1% of the workforce in Britain, but accounts for 20% of worker deaths.

Many of these fatalities are due to poor work practices when servicing machinery. Additionally, many more workers are seriously injured each year due to unsafe work practices when working on machinery.