Farmer goes to court after hand was ‘crushed’ in harvester

A farmer has taken a High Court action against his former employer after his hand was “crushed” in the auger of a combine harvester.

The farmer, from Bandon, Co. Cork, is suing an agricultural contractor that he worked for when the incident occurred on September 16, 2016.

He alleges that, while he was trying to manually unclog grain from the machine, his employer activated it.

He told the court that he was “screaming in pain”, and that “blood was running down his sleeve into his pocket”. He was eventually freed from the machine when fire-fighters cut through the auger.

After turning the machine off, the contractor apparently attempted to manually reverse the mechanism, but was asked to stop as “the pain became unbearable”.

“I could not see my hand. I said for God’s sake ring the fire brigade to cut me out of this,” the farmer told the court.

Despite it being discussed that his hand would have to be amputated, it was saved through “heroic efforts” of hospital doctors. However, the hand is compromised and he can now not work as a dairy farmer, the court was told.

His counsel, Dr. John O’Mahony SC, told the court that: “Farming was his life and soul and his exclusive commitment…He will never get back to the sunny side of the street in relation to his life.”

He had been due to inherit the family dairy farm outside Bandon. Since the accident, his sister has instead inherited that farm, while he has taken over an outside tillage farm.

He alleges that he was requested to unclog the machine in “dangerous and hazardous circumstances”, and that it was activated is circumstances where an injury was likely to be caused.

The contractor denies these claims.

The presiding judge, Mr. Justice Kevin Cross, was told of the farmer’s relief “to see that his hand was still there”, but that the pain was “unbelievable” and “indescribable”.

As well as suffering flashbacks and nightmares of the incident, the farmer also described to the court how he can no longer pick up his phone from a flat position or tie his shoe laces.

The case is ongoing.

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