Farmer and machinery firm prosecuted after potato harvesting injury

A Lincolnshire farmer and an agricultural machinery supplier have been fined a total of nearly £40,000 after a casual worker had tendons in his hand severed by a potato crusher during harvesting.

The unnamed 25 year-old man had been helping farmer Timothy Dean with potato harvesting at Waterloo Farm near Sleaford, on 15 June 2009, Grantham Magistrates' Court heard.

A Grimme potato crusher had been fitted on the potato harvester but had no guard in place to protect workers against dangerous moving parts. This allowed the young man to lean in to remove a stone from the crusher without power to the unit being isolated, whereupon his hand was injured.

Dean pleaded guilty to having failed either to ensure the health and safety of his employee, or to have assessed the risks involved in the work. He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay nearly £10,000 in costs.

Grimme (UK) of Boston pleaded guilty to having failed to ensure that others were not put at risk by its actions. The company was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

The company has since modified the crusher and provided an instruction manual.

Sarah Jardine, an inspector with the Health and Safety Inspectorate which brought the prosecution, said after the hearing: "This wouldn't have happened at all if Mr Dean had carried out a risk assessment and put in place a safe system of work and if Grimme (UK)  had supplied a crusher that included a safety guard, and provided instructions on how to safely clear blockages."

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