Farming is a notoriously dangerous business, with an estimated 13,000 agricultural workers suffering an injury at work in 2018/19 – more than double the all-industries rate – according to Health and Safety Executive figures.

Among the many hazards found on a farm, those posed by slurry pits or grain silos can be particularly acute; indeed, more than five per cent of last year’s fatalities in UK agriculture were caused by these dangerous areas.

Accidents do, of course, happen but if your employer failed in its duty to keep you as safe as possible at your work and you suffered injury in a silo or slurry pit as result, you could be entitled to compensation, as Therese Classon, a Partner in the PI and Clinical Negligence department at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot, explains.

Grain silos and slurry pits can be fatally dangerous, with drowning or asphyxiation being the common causes of death if someone falls in them by mistake. However, such facilities can also cause a range of non-fatal, but potentially life-changing injuries, such as dermatitis from exposure to contaminants stored in them, or industrial asthma due to the inhalation of toxic fumes.

A clear legal duty for employers whose employees’ work involves slurry pits or silos is to provide the correct safety equipment and regularly check that the facilities are in good working order.

For example, workers who need to clear a blockage in a grain silo may become trapped if the obstruction unexpectedly clears so grain silo rescue equipment is essential. Slurry pits, meanwhile, are full of poisonous chemicals which give out toxic fumes, so those required to work around these areas must be given suitable protective equipment and sufficient health and safety training.

To demonstrate your employer was negligent under health and safety legislation, you need to show they owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty of care and that you were injured as a result.  When assessing negligence the court will gauge whether your employer’s actions failed the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in the same situation.

If negligence is found, your employer will be liable to pay you compensation. How much you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries and the effect they have had on your life. However, they could include damages for:

  • pain and suffering;
  • loss of earnings;
  • medical expenses;
  • loss of potential earnings;
  • out of pocket expenses;
  • adaptations required to your home.

For further information, please contact Therese Classon in the Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team on 01626 202328 or email ThereseClasson@wbw.co.uk. WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Paignton, Torquay, Bovey Tracey, Exeter, Launceston, Exmouth, Sidmouth and Honiton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.