A TEENAGE boy had his life changed forever after he became trapped underneath a tractor. 

Tom Cutler, 16, suffered serious injuries when a tractor he was driving overturned. He was on paid work experience with Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, Folds Farm, in the New Forest. 

At Southampton Magistrates’ Court on October 16 , Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited of Folds Farm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974.  The company was ordered to pay a fine of £50,000 and costs of £9,223.

Tom was gaining experience of vehicle repair work at the farm, ahead of hopefully starting a vehicle maintenance course at Sparsholt College. 

On August 3 2021, when the incident happened, Tom was driving a tractor down an incline. The vehicle came off the track and overturned. He was alone and the tractor did not have a seat belt fitted. He was thrown out of his seat and his upper leg was trapped under the roof of the tractor - fortunately he was found in time by passers-by who were able to call for assistance. Emergency services attended and he was taken to hospital for treatment.

David Cutler, Tom's dad, said the incident 'changed his life forever'. 

"Had it not been for his own bravery and the amazing work by the emergency services we could have lost him," he added. 

“Tom acted quickly and used his belt as a tourniquet to stem bleeding; he punched out the cab window to check his leg and managed to break off a wing mirror to enable him to turn off the tractor and prevent a fire from fuel that was escaping.

“He spent a month in hospital and has undergone seven different operations but can’t do the things he used to do. He was a keen mountain biker and cricket player but that has all stopped.

“He doesn’t sleep properly and is more anxious; he had to put his education on hold for a year and we as a whole family have found it extremely tough.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, had failed to adequately protect Tom through a failure of supervision, and by not providing adequate information, instruction, and training to him.

HSE inspector Nicola Pinckney, said Tom was 'lucky the outcome was not worse'. 

"This was due to his quick thinking, the fact he was found by in time by passers-by and the outstanding work carried out by the emergency services and those in hospital providing his care," she said.

“The incident could so easily have been avoided by understanding the risks involved with employing young people.

"This could have been achieved by carrying out a suitable risk assessment and putting in place appropriate information, instruction, and training to both Tom and those working with him, and most importantly, ensuring adequate supervision was in place to ensure correct control measures and safe working practices were implemented.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

This HSE prosecution was supported by HSE enforcement lawyer Samantha Wells.