A farm has been sentenced after a young man was killed while trying to clear a blockage in a grain bin in Hawick.
Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard how Zach Dean Fox, 19, was working for Seamore Farming at their premises at Deanfoot farm in Hawick. The court was told that large metal containers known as bins were used on the farm for storing grain during harvest time.
There was an exit space at the bottom of the bin to allow the grain to escape onto a chain conveyor belt. The bins needed to be cleaned out before moving from one type of grain to another, which the court was told happened around four times a year.
It is not uncommon for blockages to occur in the exit holes at the bottom of the bin and Mr Fox was trying to clear such a blockage on 1 August 2014 from within the bin while it still contained a quantity of grain. He became immersed in the free flowing grain and died as a result of asphyxiation.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found the system of work in place to clear blockages in the grain bin was inherently and obviously unsafe.
Seamore Farming, of Deanfoot Farm, Denholm, Hawick, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £45,000.
After sentencing HSE inspector Allison Aitken said: “This was an entirely avoidable tragedy which resulted in the death of a young man”.
“The dangers associated with working within the confined space of grain silos and clearing blockages in grain silos are well known within the farming industry and well documented in HSE guidance.
“Farmers should ensure that they have a safe system of work in place for clearing blockages in grain silos which avoids the need for anyone to enter inside them. This can be easily achieved, where necessary, by making some minor modifications to working practices to enable the task to be completed safely from outside the grain silo”.
For further information on working grain silos in http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/grain.htm
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/ and guidance at
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk