Kent-based beef farm fined £12k following bull escape 

A Kent-based farming business has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for breaches that placed employees at risk over many years, including an escaped bull.

Roof sheeting was in poor condition, photo by HSE.

Seymour Stevens Ltd, which operates a beef and arable farm in Faversham, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. act 1974.

The company was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,830 in costs at a hearing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court at the end of April. 

A site visit carried out in November 2022 identified multiple serious health and safety failings, HSE confirmed. 

The investigation found one of the barns, used as a through route by an employee, was deemed unsafe to enter due to its poor structural state.  

The company was aware of this but had taken the decision not to repair the shed due to the costs, but had continued to allow its use. A number of electrical faults were also identified within that shed. 

In another shed, the roof was insecurely fixed and was being weighed down with a straw bale in an attempt to prevent it from moving. Roof sheeting was also in poor condition and in a state of disrepair.

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Bull escape 

The inspection found unsafe roofs, photo by HSE.

HSE officers found out that bull pens were broken and rusty. Concerns were also raised about the suitability of these to contain a bull.  

During the Christmas period in 2022, a bull managed to escape the farm and was brought back to the site by the police. 

Earlier in the same year, the company had been invited to attend a paid-for “Preparing for Inspection” course, but they did not take up the offer. 

People put at risk

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Bruce said: “While agriculture accounts for just one percent of the working population, it accounts for about 20% of workplace fatalities. 

“In the case at Seymour Stevens farm, there were failings to manage health and safety risks associated with animals and falling objects, two of the five most common causes of fatal injuries in the agriculture sector. 

“Employees and members of the public were being put at risk, despite previous warnings having been given to the company by their staff.” 

A number of electrical faults were identified in a shed, photo by HSE.

Mr Bruce added it is important that employers maintain their workplaces and equipment to “suitable standards” to ensure that employees, visitors and members of the public are not put at risk. 

HSE is focusing on the dangers of livestock as part of this year’s Your Farm, Your Future campaign. 

The initiative provides helpful advice on working with livestock to assist farmers and workers in keeping them safe. 

READ MORE : FSP raises ‘serious concerns’ over HSE’s decision to stop farm inspections

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