NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Shetland farmer death 'could have been avoided'

The death of a farm worker after she startled a pregnant cow could have been avoided, a sheriff has ruled.

Pat Wishart, 62, died from chest and abdominal injuries after she was pinned down and struck when she went to check on the animal at Bixter in Shetland in March last year.

She had entered a pen head on to the cow.

Sheriff Philip Mann said it might have been avoided if she had approached the cow from its side or rear.

'Regain its footing'

In a written judgement after a fatal accident inquiry, the sheriff said: "As the deceased entered the pen by ducking between two horizontally placed scaffolding poles she startled the cow which lost its footing and landed with its body partially through the two scaffolding poles pinning the deceased to the lower one.

"The cow then struck the deceased several times with its feet as it tried to regain its footing."

He explained: "The deceased's husband had witnessed Mrs Wishart's accident.

"He beat the cow away from Mrs Wishart and managed to pull her from the pen into an open area of the byre where he immediately administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"He managed to bring Mrs Wishart round on two occasions before she succumbed to the effects of her injuries and died in his presence.

"I was advised that Mr Wishart, understandably, was too upset to give evidence in person at the inquiry."

'Testament to care'

Sheriff Mann added: "Farming is an inherently dangerous industry.

"It is very easy to counsel perfection after the event and, with the benefit of hindsight, to point out errors of judgment and deficiencies in working practices that are not necessarily at all obvious to those who are engaged in the industry as a way of life.

"It is testament to the care taken by Mrs Wishart and her husband in the running of their crofting business that they were engaged in it together for many years without major incident.

"It is tragic that their long and harmonious personal and working life together has been brought to an end in such a sudden and unforeseen way by an accident the likes of which could, but for the grace of God, strike at anyone at any time in this particular industry."

He concluded: "All that we can hope for is that any publicity given to this case will encourage farmers and crofters to pay attention to the published advice of the Health and Safety Executive and the National Farmers Union who, I am told, in the week when this inquiry took place launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers which exist in the industry.

"I would like, once again, to associate the court with the condolences expressed to Mr Wishart and his family for the sudden and tragic loss of Mrs Wishart."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites