Farm death was an accident, inquest hears

An inquest into the death of a man at Wooler has found that his death was caused by an accident.

Ronald Rudd, a 52-year-old farm labourer, was found dead beside his tractor in a field in Wooler, where he had been working spreading muck, on May 1 this year.

It was found that he had suffered skull injuries.

The tractor, with a trailer attached, had gone through a hedge on the steep field, where it had come to a stop, with a wheel jammed against the trailer’s draw bar.

Mr Rudd’s colleague called an ambulance, but despite first responders arriving on the scene in four minutes, he was pronounced dead shortly after.

As usual in cases where a death in the workplace is investigated, a jury was assembled to establish particulars.

They were presented with statements from Mr Rudd’s colleague and employer.

These stressed that checks on the tractor’s systems, while not logged, were carried out daily.

Mr Rudd’s employer, Douglas Ian Cutter, remembered him as ‘a careful and even cautious driver’.

He added: “In fact, I recall once having to placate a farmer after Ronald had decided the conditions were too wet to work in.”

At several stages, the jury were reminded, in the statements of Mr Rudd’s colleagues, that at no point was there any pressure on him to work with the tractor if he felt uncomfortable with the conditions.

An investigation of the tractor by Sheldon Taylor, a mechanical engineer specialist with the Northumberland Health and Safety Executive, in the days after the accident found that it was functioning as normal except for its power-assisted steering.

Mr Taylor said that it could not be known whether this fault was evident before the accident.

North Northumberland Coroner Tony Brown recorded a verdict of accidental death.