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Irish business fined €65,000 after farmer loses fingers & thumb in farm accident


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AN AGRI-TRADE business was fined €65,000 after a farmer lost all the fingers and thumb of his right hand in a fertiliser spreader which was brought to his farm by a contractor.

Inspector David Barry of Health and Safety Authority said the accident happened on a farm in Cork on June 26, 2021.


He used a spreader, which got clogged by fertiliserCredit: Alamy
The victim read an impact statement in court


The victim read an impact statement in courtCredit: Alamy

Stuart and Lyndon Smith Ltd, of Ballynametagh, Carrigaline, Co Cork was contracted to spread fertiliser on the land of Thomas Maw.

One of their workers was operating a spreader.

The farmer assisted the worker when the fertiliser clogged the machine.

Unfortunately, in an instant all of his fingers and the thumb of his right hand were severed. 

An auger guard which would have stopped the accident from occurring had been removed by the company eight months earlier.

Mr Maw, in a victim impact statement heard previously in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court, said that he was very upset by what had occurred.

As of February this year he hadn’t received an apology of any sort from the firm.

The company apologised to Mr Maw a week ago.

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Judge John Martin said that he could choose to be cynical about the timing of the apology but it was “very meaningful” for the injured farmer.

Mr Maw has no ill feeling towards the company following the apology and did not want them to suffer financial difficulties arising out of the incident.

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He said Stuart and Lyndon Smith Ltd had cooperated fully with the investigation into the incident and had immediately put the guard back on.

They have also stopped using this particular machine and were remorseful for what happened.

The Judge said the injured party suffered a “devastating injury” to his dominant right hand which had a major physical, emotional, and mental impact on him.

Defence barrister, Patrick O’Riordan, acknowledged that a “serious injury” had occurred.

However, he said that the company had dealt with the matter in a very responsible manner.

He said: “The company has no previous convictions. A signed plea of guilty was entered. There was full cooperation with the Health and Safety Authority investigation.” 

Stuart and Lyndon Smith Ltd, a family run business which has been operating for 70 years, pleaded guilty to a charge that on June 26, 2021, they failed to ensure an auger guard remained in place on a Can Argo auger conveyor system so that individuals were not exposed to risks.

They also pleaded guilty to a breach which resulted in Thomas Maw suffering personal injury, both charges being contrary to sections of the Health and Welfare at Work Act.

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