21 February 2022

Health & Safety - HSE Farming Prosecution

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) has recently reported on the prosecution of a farmer following the death of an 83 year old man who had been attacked by cattle.

On 30th May 2020, David Tinniswood, his wife and their two dogs were following a public right of way that passed through a yard at Ivescar Farm at Chapel-Le-Dale in Carnforth.It is understood they were attacked by cattle that were grazing, with calves, in a field.Mr Tinniswood was fatally injured and his wife also received serious injuries.

Mr Christopher Paul Sharpe, a partner in J H Sharp and Son, subsequently pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.He was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison (suspended for 12 months) and fined £878 plus costs of £7820.30.

HSE noted in its report that: “…Farmers should ensure they take all reasonably practicable precautions to protect walkers on public rights of way, especially when they are grazing cows and calves together, or bulls are present.”

HSE’s guidance document “Farmwise” provides helpful information for farmers on how to manage various health and safety risks.There is information on ‘handling livestock’ (page 33).Of particular relevance in the above case, there is also a section on ‘child and public safety’ (page 31) which reminds farmers to check that members of the public: “cannot enter any yard or pen etc occupied by potentially dangerous animals. Remember that female animals, especially those with young, can kill or injure anyone, including children”.

Furthermore at page 32 the guidance notes that “…if you have fields with rights of way or other permitted public access, make sure…you assess the temperament of any cattle kept in fields with public access, and remove from the group any with a history of aggression, or that may be aggressive because of illness, young calves etc”.

In Northern Ireland, HSENI has published information for farmers on working safely with livestock which references the need to: “be careful around cows and heifers with new-born calves”.Further details of precautions to consider can be found in: “Safety around calving time”.

If you would like any further information or advice relating to farm health and safety law, please contact Ashleigh Birkett or Ben Johnston from the Health & Safety team at Carson McDowell LLP.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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