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Farming family fined after toddler injured during harvest time

May 8 2015

AmboMembers of a Derbyshire farming family have been fined a total of £9,000 for serious safety failings after a three-year-old boy was injured during harvest time.

Ivan and Jane Hammersley and their sons, Christopher and Daniel Hammersley, appeared before Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on 7th May following the incident at White House Farm near Ashbourne on 21st September 2013.

The court was told it was the second incident involving a child at the farm after a two-year-old boy was killed when he was hit by a telehandler in 2009.

In the second incident, the toddler, who cannot be identified, was on the first floor of a barn with Christopher Hammersley, who was moving grain around using a pair of augers – a rotating screw inside a tube – when his foot was pulled into one.

He suffered deep lacerations to the top of his left foot which required plastic surgery and spent several nights in hospital.

HSE’s investigation found the boy had accessed the first floor of the barn via a ladder. As well as the dangers this posed, there were also open edges on the first floor, poor electrical insulation and significant levels of grain, dust and noise.

The auger had a guard but such guarding is not designed for a child’s dimensions.

All four defendants admitted to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Ivan Hammersley, 72, was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500 and Jane Hammersley, 66, was given a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay £500 costs.

Christopher Hammersley, 43, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500 and Daniel Hammersley, 40, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500.

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “You are all people of outstanding good character and I have read many references that show you are well thought of in the community.

“The expression that has been used in court is that you are ‘fighting against the tide’ and I accept these are not good times for the agriculture industry.”

HSE inspector Stuart Parry said: “Agriculture has one of the highest fatal incident rates of any industry. It is also the only high-risk industry that has to deal with the frequent presence of children. Farms are homes as well as workplaces.

“Children should be kept in a safe place, such as a dedicated play area. Alternatively if they are observing farm work, it should be at a safe distance with a competent adult providing supervision, and that adult must not be the person undertaking the work task.”