NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Farmer combine harvester death 'could have been avoided'

A farmer killed by a combine harvester in Aberdeenshire would not have died if he and his father had completely switched it off, a sheriff has ruled.

Alan Ironside, 39, died at Auchlinn farm near Turriff in August 2013 as he tried to clear a blockage.

A fatal accident inquiry was held at Banff Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Philip Mann has now ruled his death could have been prevented if a "safe stop" procedure had been followed.

He determined that if Mr Ironside and his father, who was working alongside him, had taken the precaution of completely turning off the combine harvester, the accident which resulted in Mr Ironside's death after being pulled into the working machinery "would not have occurred".

'Accidental slip'

Sheriff Mann noted: "I take the opportunity to recognise that failure to follow safe procedures is by no means uncommon within the agricultural industry.

"Mr Ironside and his father went about the task of clearing the blockage in the combine harvester in exactly the same way as many others would have done.

"Mr Ironside, I am sure, would have known instinctively that he was taking a risk in setting about the task in the way that he did.

"What happened is entirely understandable but the case illustrates how the merest accidental slip can have fatal consequences when safe procedures have not been followed."

The sheriff added: "I take the opportunity to express the sympathy of the court to Mr Ironside's widow, to his father and to the wider family who have suffered such a tragic loss.

"Mr Ironside was a much-loved and respected man of great integrity and humour who will be sorely missed especially by his family but also by all who knew him."

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