Farm working is for the birds for one employee

Industry news roundup: week ended 18 Feb 2013:

Not everyone can say that they truly love what they do for a living – in fact you might even say your job is ‘for the birds’ – kind of like this one poor bloke.

I don’t mean to be flippant, or to minimise this poor man’s pain, but you really can’t make news stories like this up: a twenty nine year old farm worker ended up in some serious pain when a malfunctioning bird feeder ended up mangling his hand while he tried to clear a blockage. The farmhand, Luke Parker, suffered some very serious injuries to the back of his hand, including a laceration that severed tendons and nerves and has left him even to this day with limited movement in the hand and still suffering from pain.

According to the personal injury claims heard in Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Parker had discovered the issue whilst collecting eggs during the course of his work at Green Label Farms, in Woodbridge. He had been specifically at the Meldesham site of Cherry Gate Farm at the time that he noticed that one of the automated lines that provided bird feed had stopped working as it should because a sensor had been blocked by surplus grain – something that happened quite often, according to Mr Parker’s testimony.

Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: guess what happened to poor Mr Parker after he began clearing the blockage? If you said ‘I’ll wager his sleeve got caught in the machine as it started back up after he uncovered the sensor,’  you would be correct  and I would be around 20 quid.

Normally, a situation like  this would lead to a massive personal injury compensation award for Mr Parker. However, the Health and Safety Executive got involved, and you and I both know what that means: massive fines for Mr Parker’s employers.

HSE inspectors swarmed the accident site, going over the whole thing with a fine-toothed comb. Investigators found that – surprise surprise – the farm had not placed a safe system of working in the event that there was a blockage that needed to be dealt with, even though these types of blockages happened all the time, and that there had been no provisions put in place to prevent inadvertent machine start ups such as locking the machine, isolating it, or perhaps even shutting the damned thing off for five minutes while some hapless farm worker put his hand inside to clear the bird feed.

For their supreme lack of foresight, Green Labels Farm was slapped with a £5,000 fine after coming clean about breaching Health and Safety rules. Serves them right, if you ask me.

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