An international farm equipment manufacturer has been fined after a Shropshire farmer died when the rotating arms of a defective bale wrapping machine struck him on the head.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted McHale Engineering Ltd, of Castlebar Road, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, Republic of Ireland, for supplying the defective machine in 2001.
The machine was involved in an incident on 28 May 2009 which caused the death of 48-year-old George Stokes at Tong Norton Farm, Tong Norton, Shifnal.
Shrewsbury Crown Court heard today (3 December 2012) that Mr Stokes had been working on his own, preparing a McHale square bale wrapping machine for the grass cutting season.
He was found slumped over the front of the machine by his brother, and ambulance crews pronounced him dead at the scene.
An HSE investigation found that the machine’s safety trip bar had not been designed to stop the rotating baling arms in sufficient time, meaning that anyone who activated the safety trip bar was still at risk of being struck by the machinery.
There were no witnesses to the incident, but the court heard that Mr Stokes was struck by the wrapper when it unexpectedly started to rotate, taking almost a third of a turn before stopping after the safety trip had been activated.
The failure of the safety trip bar to bring the rotating bale wrapping arms to a safe stop meant that Mr Stokes suffered fatal head injuries.
McHale Engineering pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £70,000 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Kivlin said:
“Mr Stokes’ death was a tragedy that could have been prevented if McHale Engineering had designed the machine to stop in safe manner when the safety trip bar was activated.
“Manufacturers of farm equipment should ensure that they design such equipment so that safety risks are reduced as far as possible for anyone who enters the danger zone of the rotating arms. McHale Engineering failed to do this.”
via RNN media information for journalists and the press – Press Releases – Machinery company fined after Shropshire farmer’s death – RNN media information for journalists and the press.
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