Firm fined £50,000 after 16-year-old trapped under tractor

A Hampshire-based construction firm has been fined more than £50,000 after a 16-year-old on work experience suffered serious injuries after being trapped under a tractor.

The incident happened in August 2021, when Tom Cutler was gaining paid experience of vehicle-repair work at Earlcoate Construction and Plant Hire Ltd in Fordingbridge.

The tractor, which did not have a seat belt fitted, came off the track and overturned when Cutler was driving it alone down an incline.

He was thrown out of his seat and his upper leg was trapped under the tractor’s roof, according to a statement released by the Health and Safety Executive.

Emergency services arrived and took Cutler to hospital after being called by passers-by who found the teenager.

An investigation by the HSE found that Earlcoate had failed to adequately protect Cutler, pointing to a failure of supervision and a lack of adequate information, instruction and training.

Earlcoate, which had seven employees in the year to 31 March 2023, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on 16 October.

His father, David Cutler, said: “Tom was only 16 when this incident happened, and it’s changed his life forever.

“Had it not been for his own bravery and the amazing work by the emergency services we could have lost him.”

David said his son used his belt as a tourniquet to stem bleeding, punched out the cab window to check his leg and broke off a wing mirror so he could turn off the tractor and prevent a fire from escaped fuel.

He added that, after a month in hospital and seven different operations, his son is still unable to carry out activities he used to, such as mountain biking and cricket.

HSE inspector Nicola Pinckney said: “The incident could so easily have been avoided by understanding the risks involved with employing young people.

“This could have been achieved by carrying out a suitable risk assessment and putting in place appropriate information, instruction and training to both Tom and those working with him, and most importantly, ensuring adequate supervision was in place to ensure correct control measures and safe working practices were implemented.”

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