Hamilton Farmers (East Lothian), were today fined £20,000 after one of its workers was crushed to death when the panel fell on him in June 2008.
Haddington Sheriff Court heard the victim was assisting in the construction of a perimeter wall at an open hay shed, when the a pre-cast concrete panel weighing more than one tonne toppled over and crushed him.
HSE Inspector Gillian McLean said: “Unfortunately, the use of precast concrete panels to build farm buildings is common place. It is also common place for farmers and workers in the agricultural sector to ‘have a go’ at building constructions when they are not properly trained or equipped in structural engineering and health and safety practices.”
The HSE found that there had been no risk assessment carried out for the project and although the JCB telescopic handler and the slings and hooks provided with the concrete panels were all in good order, no suitable lifting attachment had been fitted to the JCB telehandler forks.
The investigation also revealed iIt was inevitable that the slings on the forks were going to slip and slide, especially as the panels needed to be properly handled and rotated. Suspending the concrete panel from lifting slings supported by the forks did not allow the panel to rotate freely as it would have done if supported by another device such as a crane hook.
Hamilton Famers (East Lothian), which is based at Garvald Mains Farm, Garvald, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Haddington Sheriff Court.