A Lincolnshire vegetable farmer has been fined £100,000 for safety failings after an agency worker, originally from Lithuania, died when she was run over by a reversing tractor trailer.
Asta Juodiene, 46, of Boston, died while working in a field for M Baker (Produce) Ltd at Grant’s Farm, Leverton, just off the A52 near Boston on 15 May 2012. She was one of 10 agency workers preparing to start work planting Brussels sprouts seedlings.
Lincoln Crown Court heard on 21 July that Mrs Juodiene’s foot was caught under a rear wheel after a worker reversed the tractor and trailer full of module plants towards a planting machine so it could be loaded. She was dragged under the wheels.
Her colleagues were unable to pull her free and she died at the scene from head and chest injuries.
HSE’s investigation found that:
• M Baker (Produce) Ltd had failed to carry out a written risk assessment or devise a safe procedure for reversing a vehicle when rear vision was restricted;
• there was a lack of relevant information, instruction and training provided to the workers in the risks from moving vehicle in the fields;
• there was a lack of communication between the driver and the other workers in the field; and
• there was no safe procedure to follow for either drivers or workers during a reversing vehicle manoeuvre.
Since the incident, M Baker (Produce) Ltd no longer carries out the reversing manoeuvre.
M Baker (Produce) Ltd of Main Road, Old Leake, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £18,477 in costs.
After the case, HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “This tragic incident shows what happens when risks from workplace transport are not controlled, as happened with M Baker Produce. “The knock-on effects of this preventable tragedy cannot be underestimated. A husband has been left devastated and two daughters were left without a mother.
“Workplace transport is a frequent source of serious or fatal incidents and employers should not be complacent about the risks. Reversing can be particularly hazardous and should be avoided where possible. A careful assessment of the risks will help identify the best way to control risks from workplace transport.”
Mrs Juodiene leaves a husband, Vaidas and two daughters, Samanta and Agne. Samanta said: “It is nearly two years without our mother in our lives but a day does not pass without us thinking of her. The most difficult thing is to explain to my five-year-old son why his grandmother is not able to call or visit any more.
“Having lost her, a big wound has opened in our hearts which will not heal for a long time to come. All of us have to leave this world one day but definitely not in the circumstances my mum did.
“The loss of our mum was a great shock for our dad and it badly affected my sister as she was unable to finish her studies. Our lives have changed massively. I miss my mum’s laughter, her good mood, those brown eyes full of kindness and love and her warm hugs. But I believe she can see and hear me and she knows she will always stay in my heart.”
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