South Lakeland farm owner sentenced over tractor death

THE co-owner of a South Lakeland farm has been sentenced after an employee was found dead under the wheel of a tractor.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Stuart Webster following the death of Thomas Phizacklea at Aurora Park Farm in Scales near Ulverston. The body of the 34-year-old from Dalton-in-Furness was discovered on July 2, 2009.

Barrow Crown Court was told today that the 27-year-old tractor was in a poor condition, there had been problems starting it in the past and the handbrake did not work.

An HSE investigation concluded the most likely explanation for Mr Phizacklea’s death was that he left the tractor running in neutral without the handbrake on as he got out of the cab to walk around the vehicle.

His body was found trapped between the front offside wheel and a mound of earth, after the tractor rolled forwards.

Stuart Webster, 49, of Main Street, Greenodd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to ensure the tractor was in good working order. He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £29,184 in prosecution costs.

In mitigation, Joseph Hirst told the court that Webster was unaware of the problem with the handbrake, having used the tractor about two weeks before the incident.

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