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Farm worker killed after being crushed by defective digger

A farm worker who was crushed by a defective digger when it was being hot wired was killed accidentally, a jury has found.



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Farm worker killed after being crushed by defective digger #farmsafety

A two-day inquest into the death of Richard Doble heard how the 63-year-old was working at beef and sheep farm in Devon, on May 14, 2015, when the fatal accident occurred.

 

Robin Arthur, whose family own the farm, was working alongside him on the day.

 

The pair had stopped for a cup of tea before going to the digger, which Mr Doble have moved that morning to the paddock area of the farm yard, to move an oil drum.

 

It had previously been used three days before when Mr Arthur had experienced ignition difficulties and had to hot wire the vehicle to get it started.

 

The same manoeuvre was carried out by Mr Arthur resulting in the digger unexpectedly moving forward with no one in the cab, and crushing Mr Doble between the rear bucket of the digger and a farm wall.

 

He died two days later at Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

 

Post mortem

 

A post mortem examination stated he suffered severe chest injuries, including 20 rib fractures. The cause of death was confirmed as multi organ failure due to multiple injuries.

 

Evidence relating to the digger revealed it was a 1993 module which the farm had bought 12 years ago. Mr Arthur confirmed it "had been playing up", but he had only experienced problems with the ignition once before.


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A statement from Mr Doble's wife Joan revealed he had worked on farms all his working life and as far back to when he was a young boy because he was raised on a farm and helped out at neighbouring farms.

 

Regarding Mr Doble being safety conscious, she said: "He was never one to hold back if something needed to be said."

 

Tribute

 

Describing her husband as a very healthy man for his age, she said: "He was a great husband and father. He was an extremely hard working man who never stopped. He was known and loved by many."

 

Evidence was also heard from vehicle examiner Mark Richards who concluded there were three defects to the digger.

 

The first was a parking brake which was "excessively" worn out, and the second was a long standing faulty reverse control which meant the vehicle could move forwards or backwards without lifting the control.

 

Mr Richards said: "My opinion is that the hand brake will not have held it in a stationary position. Having bypassed the ignition key by hot wiring allows the vehicle to start in gear."

 

He added that if someone had been sat in the cab the movement of the vehicle could have been controlled.

 

A jury reached a conclusion of accidental death.

 

Source: Devon Live

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