A farmer from Exeter has been fined following an incident at his farm whereby a teenager worker suffered serious head injuries when a 16t dumper he was driving overturned.

The 19-year-old ended up in intensive care, however he made a full recovery.

In 2019 he had been paid by the farmer, Ricard Palfrey, to move material as part of improvement works at Upper Kingswell Farm.

Palfrey was also paying the teenager’s 16-year-old friend to do the job. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Palfrey failed to ask either boy their age or enquire into their training or experience operating dumpers.

It also found that the route he had asked the boys to take was inappropriate as it was steeper than the dumper manufacturer said the machine could work on, and that the seat belt was covered with a fertiliser bag, meaning it couldn’t be worn.

Palfry pleaded guilty to breaching  Section 3(1)  of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at Yeovil Magistrates’ Court.

He was fined £8,000  and ordered to pay costs of £15,324.40.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Farmers should ensure that only property trained and qualified people use work equipment on their farms.

“Farmers should ensure that any equipment that they provide is safe to use.

“In this case, Mr. Palfrey allowed young and inexperienced workers to operate work equipment that could not be used safely.

“A dumper should only ever be operated by a trained driver and the seat belt should always be worn.

“These young and untrained workers should never have been allowed to operate the farm dumper,” Jones continued.

“Young workers need careful nurturing and damaging them in this way can affect their future development.

“If Mr. Palfrey had made the proper checks then this young worker would not have sustained the life threatening head injuries.”