Slurry tanker manufacturers have agreed to change their design after a farmer was crushed to death trying to change a tanker wheel last year.
David Mayne, from Windy Ridge in Banbridge, died almost instantly when a 10-ton tanker collapsed on him as he was changing one of its wheels on a Katesbridge farm last year.
The incident, which occurred on February 16, was the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
At an inquest two months ago, a jury found that the absence of identifiable jack points on slurry tankers – thought to be used by up to a quarter of Northern Ireland’s farmers – led to the 32-year-old’s death.
Coroner John Leckey – who described David Mayne’s death as avoidable – indicated he would pursue the matter at ministerial level if manufacturers did not take action.
It has since emerged that 12 manufacturers which make Northern Ireland’s slurry tankers have decided to change the design process.
All tankers will now be fitted with jacking points, following a meeting with the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) on March 29.
David Mayne’s inquest heard that the jack he used was the size of the base of a water glass.
Pipes running underneath the machine’s axle prevented the father-of-five from using a larger jack – which he had tried in vain to secure.
Robert Thompson, who had travelled to Mr Mayne’s home to help him change the punctured tyre, described seeing his friend crushed when the fully loaded tanker capsized on him after the jack gave way.
David’s mother, Maureen, who had appealed for pressure to be exerted on tanker manufacturers, welcomed the move.
“It’s too late for David and for us, but it’s good news if it helps someone else,” Mrs Mayne said.
“It should have happened years ago but it’s like everything, until something terrible happens.”
Louis Burns, principal inspector with HSENI, told the February inquest that the location of the incident, on a muddy farm lane, the use of uneven blocks of wood to stabilise the tanker and its sheer content weight all contributed to the fatal accident.
However, he said the absence of identifiable jacking points was the over-riding factor.
It prompted John Leckey, Northern Ireland’s most senior coroner, to call on slurry tanker manufacturers to provide jacks and user manuals.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the HSE said: “Fatal accident statistics in Northern Ireland show that over one-in-three workplace deaths are caused by unsafe maintenance. In the last year the farming industry suffered 12 deaths, of which three (were) related to maintenance and repair activities.
“HSENI would like to remind the farming community that when it comes to changing wheels on heavy agricultural machinery such as slurry tankers we would strongly advise that only persons who have the right equipment should tackle this work.”
Current advice to farmers from the Health and Safety |Executive on changing a tyre on slurry tankers:
- Put a plan in place to deal with a puncture on a slurry tanker or similar equipment.
- Consider using a skilled professional tyre fitter to change the wheel.
- Empty the slurry tanker – if necessary transfer the slurry to another tanker.
- Move the tanker to flat hard standing where possible.
- Contact the PSNI if the vehicle is a hazard on the road.