View Full Version : Farm fall determination

03-Apr-13, 07:05
Hay bales precaution might not have been feasible or adequate concludes the sheriff
A SAFETY measure using hay bales as a cushion would have been a reasonable precaution to have taken before a farmer embarked on a barn re-roofing task that ended in tragedy.
Spreading straw bales on the ground below the working area would have limited the degree of John Jack’s injuries but such a precaution might not have proved adequate or feasible, states Sheriff Andrew Berry, who heard an inquiry into the farmer’s death.
Seventy-one- year old Mr Jack died in hospital at Wick, after the three-metres fall at one of his farms at Gothiegill, Murkle, on October 14, last year. His grandson, Alistair Gunn, who witnessed the tragedy, was assisting him in removing the old roof sections which were being dropped to the ground. Mr Jack fell about three metres through the roof, onto a concrete base.
In his determination, Sheriff Andrew Berry referred to evidence given by Health and Safety Executive inspector, Karen Wilson, who said that it might have been possible to mitigate the risk of serious injury, had bales of hay, readily available on the farm, had been spread below the working area.
Senior fiscal depute, David Barclay, had asked the sheriff to conclude that this would have been “a reasonable precaution” to take to avoid the accident.
Sheriff Berry states that, In this regard, he accepted that if a person fell onto bales of hay, there would be a real likelihood that injury would be less serious than if he fell onto a hard surface.
However, the sheriff continued: “Unless the entire ground below the large area being worked upon, was covered and to a significant depth, mitigation of injury would have been the best that might have occurred. Photographs show that to cover the entire area might not have been possible due to various obstructions, including a trailer below.”
Sheriff Berry said that Mr Barclay had suggested that a possible finding might be that there had been “an inadequate consideration of risk assessment” and that there might be a great awareness of the health and safety information available.
The sheriff commented: “The reality is that Mr Jack had been an effective farmer for many decades whose abilities were reaffirmed in evidence. He would have been a master of many skills and logically, must have assessed risk daily, given the many and varied challenges and dangers to which farmers are exposed. This was a terrible accident.”
Mr Jack, who lived at one of his other farms, at Inkstack, Barrock, was described as “a highly experienced farmer” who was regarded as “a conscientious, careful and diligent worker”.
Sheriff Berry stated that the farmer had died from head and chest injuries due to the fall but made no recommendations.