Farm manager crushed at work was victim of ‘tragic accident’

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A FARM manager crushed to death by a forklift truck was the victim of a “tragic accident,” an inquest has heard.

South Lincolnshire coroner Prof Robert Forrest was summing up at the end of a two-day inquest for Peter James Barney who died from chest injuries after being run over on a farm in Moulton Seas End.

Mr Barney (58), of Broadgate, Weston, was working for Lincolnshire Field Products (LFP) at its potato grading and storage site at Middle Farm where the accident happened in October 2010.

Members of Mr Barney’s family, including his wife Maureen and daughter Kate Chapman, were at the inquest where a jury of four men and five women returned a verdict of misadventure/accident.

Forensic pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton gave evidence that Mr Barney had suffered 88 separate external injuries, including rib and abdominal damage so severe that death was “completely instantaneous.”

The inquest at Spalding’s Red Lion Quarter also heard from Lincolnshire Police collision investigator PC Stuart Cooke, who said Mr Barney was probably walking from his vehicle, slipped and fell under the forklift driven by Lithuanian farm worker Vidas Kuprescenka.

PC Cooke said: “Because of the position he was found in, it’s more likely that Mr Barney was already on the floor when he was hit, rather than walking across the route of the forklift.”

He said Mr Kuprescenka was carrying two boxes of potatoes on the forklift with a total weight of about eight tonnes when the accident happened and that his line of vision while driving was only nine or ten centimetres.

Other witnesses included Det Sgt Lance Morgan, of Spalding CID, LFP managing director Robin Hancox and Mr Kuprescenka himself who said the accident left him “really unwell” having had a good working relationship with Mr Barney.

After the verdict, Prof Forrest said: “I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family after this tragic accident.”

Statement from Lincolnshire Field Products released after the inquest:

“We are grateful to the coroner for his thorough and sensitive exploration of events leading up to Mr Barney’s death in a tragic accident at work on October 31, 2010.

“Mr Barney had worked for Lincolnshire Field Products Ltd for 38 years and was well-liked and respected by his friends and colleagues within the company and throughout the wider farming community.

“We have liaised with the police, Health and Safety Executive and the coroner with their respective investigations and have taken on board suggestions to improve existing practices where appropriate.

“The management at LFP continue to be highly committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy working environment.

“Our thoughts remain with Mr Barney’s family at this distressing time.”