A GARRISON mother whose son was killed in a tractor accident caused by negligence has called for a new law to ensure other parents do not suffer as she has done.
Neil Graham lost his life in 2018 while working as a trainee mechanic Brown’s agricultural engineering firm in Enniskillen. He was working underneath a Massey Ferguson tractor brought in by C&V Loane Limited – a farming business based in Kesh – before someone started the vehicle causing it to jump and administer fatal injures to the 17-year-old.
In Court last week, Gordon Brown, 63, of Boho Road in Enniskillen, admitted a charge of being an employer and failing to provide a safe system of work and was fined £20,000.
Jamie Loane, 27, from Derrybrick Road in Kesh, pleaded guilty to a charge of being an employee and failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and others. A fine of £10,000 was also imposed upon him.
Loane’s family farming business – C&V Loane Limited of the same address in Kesh – admitted a charge failing to ensure a non-employee was not exposed to risks to health and safety. It was also fined £20,000.
Neil’s mother, Joy Graham, insisted that regulations needed to be tightened up for farming firms to be held to account over safety and called for “Neil’s Law” to be introduced to enforce this.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster she said: “More has to be done to stop this from happening again – that’s the most important thing. Something has to be done – we are aware that the Health and Safety Executive are a small team and that there are 20,000 farms in Northern Ireland. They can’t be on every farm checking every vehicle.
“But there are lots of other ways and means of this being done. The Department of Agriculture (DAERA) have a lot of employees who could do checks on these tractors.
“The PSNI have no facility where they could stop a tractor on the road and confiscate it because a tractor doesn’t have to have an MOT or a PSV like a van or a car. So they have no power to do anything if they stop one of these tractors.
“Every farm gets a single farm payment every year – there should be something linked in with that. There has to be something done – this just cannot be the end.
“There has to be a law to come out of it that could be ‘Neil’s Law’ with tractors having to have some sort of safety check to be safe for other people so that no other family will have to endure what we’ve been through.
“Some small amount of good can come from losing him if we can introduce something to stop this happening to other people. Taking safety features off any vehicle – including a big, strong tractor – takes lives.
“It has to change – it really has to.
Joy paid tribute to Neil – a former pupil of Portora Royal School – was “a special young man” who only ever wanted to be a tractor mechanic.
She added: “He just had such a special place with us. We were a close family – he meant the world to us and we thought the world of him.
“That morning I had gone to work early. I was In Belfast that day working. He had said goodbye to his dad. It was a beautiful sunny May morning and Neil was on top of the world.
“He was so happy in his work, so happy in his college course and everything was great.
“But on that day, our world changed.”
To read more.. Subscribe to current edition
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere