Shropshire Horse Breeder Fined For Safety Failings

Student Might Need An Ankle Replacement In The Future


A 20-year-old veterinary student suffered life-changing injuries when she was struck by falling straw bales at a horse breeding site in Shropshire.

Edward Matson - a partner at RL Matson & Son of Whitchurch - has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,114 after pleading guilty to one breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the woman was hit by four bales of straw that weighed 1.2 tonnes.

She suffered severe leg and pelvis injuries and was consigned to a wheelchair for three months following a 19-day hospital stay.

The HSE added that her ankle was so badly broken that she might need a replacement in the future.

She had been collecting hay for the horses' troughs when the accident occurred and this was set to be the last day of her work experience placement.

The incident might have had more serious repercussions, as an artery in her thigh almost ruptured after being stretched by the bales.

According to HSE inspectors, the incident could have been avoided if the company had used more suitable systems to stack and store the straw safely.

Following a hearing at Shrewsbury Magistrates' Court, HSE inspector Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts said these safety failures caused life-changing injuries and could hinder the woman's career progression.

Indeed, the student is still unable to crouch or kneel and finds it difficult to bend more than 18 months after the accident occurred.

"This incident could have been easily prevented had Mr Matson, an experienced horse breeder, made simple and adequate provisions to protect employees and non-employees working alongside stacks of straw bales," Ms Riley-Roberts remarked.

"The risks from materials falling at height are clear, and there are necessary procedures for the safe management, storage and maintenance of bales in stacks."

Incidents of this nature are fairly common - although most accidents tend to occur in the agricultural sector.
HSE statistics show 18 people have been killed by falling bales since 2000 in the UK and this does not account for cases that involved a mechanical handler.