Court fines three defendants £50,000 after 17-year-old student crushed by tractor on placement

Laganside Court 
Belfast Magistrates Court 
Belfast Crown Court 
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Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Archive/PA Images
Neil Graham, a 17-year-old engineering student, was crushed by a tractor in Fermanagh while completing his work placement in 2018.

Belfast Crown Court has fined three defendants £50,000 following an investigation into the death of a 17-year-old engineering student who was crushed by a tractor in Fermanagh.

Neil Graham, who was studying part-time at South West College in Omagh, died on 22 May 2018 at business premises on the Boho Road in Enniskillen.

The Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland conducted an investigation into his death.

Neil was completing his work placement at Gordon Brown Agricultural Engineering. He was working alongside business owner Gordon Brown on the day that he died.

They were carrying out repairs to a tractor owned by C&V Loane Limited of Kesh, Co Fermanagh.

The HSENI reported that while working underneath the tractor, Neil was fatally crushed by the forward movement of the back right wheel after Gordon Brown started the vehicle.

The investigation found that a safety feature to prevent the vehicle being started while in-gear had been by-passed sometime prior to it being brought in for repair.

An inspection pit was available in the workshop, which the HSENI said could have been used to examine the tractor safely from below, but was not used at that the time.

Speaking after the hearing, HSENI Inspector Anne Cassidy said: “This tragic incident needlessly claimed the life of a young man who was training to become a qualified mechanic.

“Working under machinery of any description poses significant hazards," she added.

"This work activity was even more hazardous as a key safety feature of the tractor had been disabled.

“Every employer has a responsibility to ensure the safety of workers. The identification of safe systems of work is key to ensuring safe work practices.”

Each of the three defendants pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at a court hearing in November 2022.

Gordon Brown was fined £20,000 for failing to ensure the safety of employee, Neil Graham, and for failing to implement a safe system while working under the tractor.

Jamie Loane, a director and employee of C&V Loane Limited, was fined £10,000 for failing in his duties as an employee to take reasonable care for the health and safety of another person.

Belfast Crown Court fined C&V Loane Limited £20,000 for failings in respect of its duty to Neil Graham as someone who was not directly employed by the company.

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