A FAMILY-OWNED farm at Fincham has been fined £50,000 after an employee died at its grain storage facility.

Norwich Crown Court heard that 21-year-old Arthur Mason drowned in grain while he was cleaning the inside of a silo.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that employer Maurice Mason Ltd failed to adequately identify and manage the deadly risks associated with cleaning grain stores.

Investigators found there was no safe system of work in place for this task, and no one involved had been provided with suitable training in how to complete it safely.

The court heard that Arthur Mason took turns with a colleague to undertake cleaning work inside grain bins at Hall Farm.

On July 9, 2014 Mr Mason was standing directly on the stored grain, using a broom to clean down the exposed inner surfaces of the bin.

He wore a harness fitted with a fall-arrest lanyard, which was secured to a fixed ladder inside the bin.

The court heard that Mr Mason began to sink in the grain which was emptying slowly through a small opening at the bottom of the bin several feet below its surface, causing a ‘quicksand-like’ effect.

The forces involved caused the fall-arrest component of the lanyard to unravel and extend and Mr Mason sank deeper into the grain.

Despite determined rescue efforts by colleagues and emergency services Mr Mason became engulfed in the grain and subsequently drowned.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Unwin said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man.

“This death could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place.

“There should be little need for anyone to enter such grain bins as it may be reasonably practicable to clean them remotely from outside.

“The dangers associated with grain storage are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”