Bury St Edmunds: Farm worker crushed to death by fallen cow

A MAN was crushed to death while working on a friend’s farm in Fordham, an inquest heard.

Philip Whiting, from Bury St Edmunds, was rounding up a flock of 40 friesian cows for milking at Leechmere Farm when one of the animals fell on top of him, inflicting severe injuries from which he failed to recover.

At an inquest into his death held in March, Cambridgeshire, on Friday, Coroner for North and East Cambridgeshire William Morris recorded a verdict of accidental death, ruling that Mr Whiting had died from multiple traumatic injuries.

The incident happened on July 3 at a small dairy farm on Mildenhall Road managed by Hugh and Malcolm Palmer, of whom Mr Whiting was a close friend.

The inquest heard that Mr Whiting took a keen interest in farming and had been helping out for about 18 months, with herding the cows and preparing them for milking among his duties.

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On the day of his death, Mr Whiting, of Heath Farm Road, had been seen by farm staff heading out to a wooded area of a field to collect the herd ready for the day’s milking.

Mr Palmer set off for the milking shed in anticipation of their arrival but became concerned when a handful of them began to wander in without Mr Whiting.

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The inquest heard that Mr Palmer’s wife went out to the field to search for Mr Whiting and found him lying on the ground. After summoning help, Mrs Palmer checked for a pulse but was unable to find one, the emergency services were summoned but the 47-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

Steven Falkner, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, said: “Fatal accidents involving cattle are normally to do with trampling and are normally caused when the cows are disturbed.

“There was no suggestion of disturbance in this case so it can’t be said for sure what happened. However, his [Mr Whiting’s] injuries are consistent with crushing suggesting cattle may have fallen on him.”

Mr Falkner also said that there was no evidence that the farm had not taken precautions to protect staff in line with health and safety law but he said that a bull had been destroyed as a precaution.

Speaking at the inquest, Mr Palmer said that working with animals in a farm environment always carried a risk but said he had no particular concerns about the temperament of any of the farm’s cows.

“When you send a very good friend off to do a job you normally do every day and they don’t come back, it is hard.”

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