Dad's firm hit with £50k fine after son died sinking under tonnes of wheat in silo storage tank

A dad’s firm has been fined £50,000 after his own son sank under a mountain of wheat while cleaning out a storage tank.

Arthur Mason, 21, climbed inside the silo but became immersed under tonnes of grain at the farm owned by his dad Hugh Mason.

His colleagues heard his “muffled shouts” but he could not raise his head above the grain, and efforts to use a pipe to help him breath failed.

Maurice Mason Ltd was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court , having previously admitted failing to discharge its duty to ensure health, safety and welfare at work.

One of the silos at Hall Farm, Fincham
(Photo: Google)

A victim personal statement was read to the court by Arthur’s mother, Kay Mason Billig, in which she said she was still “numb with shock”.

Mrs Billing said: “Farming accidents and accidents of this type involving enclosed spaces are alarmingly common.

“I urge farmers to take note of this verdict and look hard at their safety procedures.

“No one should have to lose their life in such a preventable accident. For the sake of a few thousand pounds spent on health and safety, Arthur would still be alive today.”

The court heard how Arthur, a history student at the University of Gloucester, died while cleaning one of the 12 silos at Hall Farm, in Fincham, Norfolk, in July 2014.

Arthur was due to take over the farm this year
(Photo: Google)

Farm worker Mark Funge rushed to help Arthur when he heard “muffled” screams from the grain silo he was cleaning.

Prosecutor Sarah Le Fevre, for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “He looked in the grain bin and saw Arthur’s hands and the top of his hat.”

Mr Funge climbed into the silo to try and pull Arthur free, but said: “The more I moved it away the more grain fell in.”

Mrs Le Fevre, explained that in the past they would empty the silos before cleaning them.

But this practice changed around 10 years ago and employees were required to enter the silo, stand on the grain surface and clean the exposed sides.

Another employee would then release some of the grain from the bottom of the silo, while the worker inside would stand on a ladder.

The court was told how just the night before the tragedy dad Hugh had discussed passing the farm on to Arthur.

Defending the firm, Mark Balysz said: “The night before Arthur’s death, father and son – as they often did – had discussed the future of the farm and how Arthur was to take over the running of it in 2017.”

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