Kent farm fined for multiple health and safety breaches after bull escape

An inspection found unsafe roofs, one was weighed down with a hay bale to stop it from moving. Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

A farming business in Kent has been fined for multiple health and safety breaches.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says Seymour Stevens Limited, which operates a beef and arable farm in Faversham, placed employees and others at risk over many years, in an attempt to cut costs.

A site visit carried out in November 2022 identified multiple failings.

Bull pens were broken and rusty and concerns were raised about their suitability to contain a bull. The following month a bull managed to escape the farm and was brought back by the Police.

Roof sheeting was in poor condition and in some cases falling from buildings. Credit: HSE

One of the barns, used as a through route by an employee, was deemed unsafe to enter due to its poor structural state. A number of electrical faults were also identified.

In another shed, the roof was insecurely fixed and was being weighed down with a hay bale. Roof sheeting was also in a state of disrepair and in some cases falling from buildings.

HSE inspector Peter Bruce said, “While agriculture accounts for just one percent of the working population, it accounts for about 20 per cent 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."

A number of electrical faults were identified in a shed. Credit: HSE

Seymour Stevens Limited pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. act 1974 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,830 in costs at a hearing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court last week.

The company had previously been invited to attend paid-for “Preparing for Inspection” courses but they didn’t take up the offer.

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

“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 relaunched this week. The campaign has advice on working with livestock to assist farmers and workers and help keep them safe.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…