Repairing defects


A 54 years old employee of an agricultural contractor was killed when he was run over by a tractor which he had tried to start while standing on the ground alongside. The tractor had a intermittent fault in the starting electric's. He had been driving the 4-wheel drive tractor and attached trailer but it appears he stalled the machine while manoeuvring. He dismounted and used a screwdriver to cause a short circuit across the solenoid and start the tractor. Unfortunately he had left the tractor in reverse gear and had not applied the hand brake. As the tractor started it reversed over him, killing him instantly.


The fault had been reported to the Managing Director of the company four days earlier, but no action had been taken. The fault was later fixed by a mechanic within 30 minutes of him arriving on site.

The contracting company was prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees and was fined £6,500 plus costs of £487. The Managing Director, who was on site at the time of the incident, was also prosecuted and fined a further £1000.


A simple defect, a straightforward remedy. The key people knew of the fault days before and yet completing the job appeared more important than dealing with the risks with some basic maintenance. Could it happen on your farm? Thirty minutes of maintenance can never be worth a persons life.

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