CONCERNS have been raised after a farm worker died as a result of a makeshift divide falling on him.

An inquest into the death of Jamie Paul Woods heard that the 40-year-old was a farm worker on Hawkins Farm, in Sherborne, when a concrete panel weighing approximately 800kg collapsed on him.

The inquest was told two panels had been repurposed from another building in order to form a divide between a ‘collecting yard’ - an area where cattle are held prior to being encouraged into the milking parlour - and an adjacent barn used for straw storage.

Such concrete panels are usually fastened to a reinforced steel joist using a metal bracket bolted to the panel: at Hawkins Farm, the panels did not stretch between the two joists and, therefore, one side was secured using sections of hollow steel tubing welded to the joists and ‘clipped’ to the back of the panel using a metal bracket.

Mr Woods was in the collecting yard when the upper concrete panel that divided the collecting yard from the straw storage came away from its fixing, causing multiple injuries to Mr Woods, who was sadly confirmed deceased at the scene on January 30, 2021.

The cause of death was ruled as multiple injuries.

Brendan Allen, area coroner for Dorset, has now issued a prevention of future deaths report outlining matters of concern in relation to Mr Woods’ death.

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He said the inquest had heard evidence that the concrete panels had been in place for a number of years including when the farm was subject to investigation by external agencies “yet no remedial action was required”.

Mr Allen said he was concerned about the ‘likely extensive’ use of pre-cast concrete panels at farms throughout England and Wales and said: “There appears to be a lack of understanding of the importance of securing the panels in the optimal manner.

"It does not appear to have been understood by those working on the farm that the fixings that were used on the panel that collapsed were weaker, neither does it appear to have been appreciated by those that undertook inspections of the farm subsequent to the use of this weaker method of fixing.

“Publicising the risks and educating the farmers of the risks of departing from the recognised method of fixing the pre-cast concrete panels may reduce the risk of future deaths.”

He called on the Health and Safety Executive to take ‘urgent action’ to prevent future deaths - the HSE has until April 14 to respond to the report.