Five South West farming deaths in just 12 months

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

An agricultural expert is urging farmers to be extra vigilant after five people were killed on farms across the South West in just 12 months.

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive show that 33 people across Britain were killed in agriculture in 2017/18 – three more than the previous year.

These findings have further fuelled agriculture’s risky reputation for industry safety, with it reporting the highest fatal injury rate which is almost 20 times higher than the all industry rate. Simon Hay, of rural insurance specialist Lycetts’ Exeter office, said: “Agriculture’s high fatality rate significantly outstrips that of other industries.”

The news comes after a Dawlish farmer was jailed after a volunteer was killed operating machinery on his farm in 2017. Lauren Scott, 20, was killed after her hair became trapped in a tractor shaft. A death could have been prevented with a £75 protective device, the court was told.

Carpenter, of Dawlish, said he was working in the stables when Lauren activated the shaft and tractor without his permission. However, video evidence seen by the court placed him on the scene. Exeter Crown Court heard how the tractor being used was 1940’s era machine, and not fit for purpose, leading to the event in which Lauren had suffered catastrophic injuries and was stripped naked by the force of the machine. A visiting health and safety officer to Springfield Farm called the safety standards ‘lamentable.’

Mr Justice James Dingemans said the tractor shaft posed an ‘obvious risk of entrapment and death.’ He added that Carpenter had ‘panicked’ and told the emergency services a false version of events which he was stuck with at trial.

“I’m sure Mr Carpenter couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge his role in what happened out of panic. He was happy to farm using old machinery and this created a wholly avoidable risk of death. But he didn’t process that risk.”

“No sentence which I can pass will reflect the loss suffered and will continue to suffer by Lauren Scott’s family.”

Detective Inspector Steve Davies, of the Major Crime Investigation Team, said Carpenter had tried to evade responsibility by lying to police about what he was doing at the time Lauren was killed. In a statement after sentencing, Detective Inspector Steve Davies of the Major Crime Investigation Team said “Neil Carpenter ran his farm with a complete disrespect for safety which ultimately cost the life of Lauren Scott.

His basic approach to health and safety showed a flagrant disregard for regulations that are there to protect individuals working at farms from injury and death.” He added “Ultimately he distanced himself from any responsibility for Lauren’s death.”

Carpenter was found guilty of manslaughter and received a four-year prison sentence.

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