Home | Breaking News | Tragic student died after being buried under a mountain of grain while cleaning farm storage tank
Arthur Mason tragically died while cleaning a grain silo in July 2014 Getty/SWNS:South West News Service
Arthur Mason tragically died while cleaning a grain silo in July 2014 Getty/SWNS:South West News Service

Tragic student died after being buried under a mountain of grain while cleaning farm storage tank

Arthur Mason, 21, became immersed under the wheat for up to 15 minutes, inquest hears

WT24 Desk

A STUDENT died after he sank under a mountain of grain while cleaning a farm storage tank, an inquest has heard, The Sun reports.  Arthur Mason, 21, became immersed under the wheat inside the grain silo for up to 15 minutes. Farm workers frantically fought to pull the keen rugby player out – but he was pronounced dead at the scene on his dad’s farm at Fincham, Norfolk.

 An inquest into his death heard the University of Gloucester student had been cleaning the silo with fellow farm worker Jamie Legg.  He had been in good spirits shortly before his death on July 9 2014.The pair had been shown how to clean the silos using a broom, harness, rope and safety mask the day before by farm worker Mark Funge.

This involves wearing a harness and tethering it to a ladder running horizontally down the length of the silos, which hold up to 50 tonnes of grains. One of the pair would get into the silos and use a broom to clean the silos, while the grain was about eight to nine feet from the top. When this was done a door at the bottom of the silo would be opened to let the grain out quickly and allow the rest of the silo to be cleaned.

While one person was cleaning a silo, the other one would act as a look out and open the door when necessary. In a statement read out to a jury at Norwich coroners’ court, Mr Legg said: “The grain was about six to eight feet from the top. “Mark came with us. Arthur climbed in. I do not remember if he tied to the tether to the ladder.

“I was lookout. Mark asked if we were ok. I let him know we were fine.” Arthur carried on cleaning the silo and signalled to Mr Legg to open a door at the bottom of the silo to let more grain out when he was finished cleaning the top section. Mr Legg continued: “I opened the door and looked down and saw him walking around on the grain as normal.

“After 20 minutes the grain was half way down. Arthur was standing in the middle of the bin with grain up to his knees. He looked up and said ‘can you close the door?'” Mr Legg took around a minute to get down and close the door and return to his original position. In this time he said Arthur “seemed panicked” and was repeatedly shouting “Mark” loudly.

He said: “When I got to the bin Mark was trying to dig his head out. “Both of his arms up to the forearm were visible but the rest of his body was completely under the grain.” Mark told Mr Legg get help and he returned with three other farm workers. He also fetched a pole to create an air pocket for Arthur and give him so space to breath.

By the time he returned with one, Arthur had spent 10-15 minutes under the grain. The East and England Ambulance Service and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service were called and helped to remove Arthur’s body. Mr Legg added: “I do not believe Arthur intended to put his own life at risk. He was doing everything right.”

The jury heard how Mr Legg had only had five to six hours’ health and safety training before starting his job. He began working as a farm labourer in June 2014, employed to do menial farms jobs including cleaning grain silos. Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, opened the inquest today.

She said: “The main issues, although this may change, are the risk assessments in place with respect to the cleaning on the silos, training with respect to the risks and use of harnesses, the rescue plan and how the rescue was affected by Hall Farm and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the ambulance service.”

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