Warning on farm working after death of former Norwich schoolboy from Denton

The family of a farm worker who died while he was diluting thick slurry has warned others of the dangers of agricultural working.

Craig Whipps, of Denton, died alongside colleague Paul Gray, at a farm in Essex, on July 15.

Mr Whipps, 27, left pregnant wife Vicky and daughter Bethany, and now his wife has paid tribute to him as she tries to raise awareness of the dangers of working in agriculture.

Mrs Whipps said: 'Craig was a lovely husband, who should have had many years of family life ahead of him. His whole family are very proud of what he achieved in the time he was with us.

'Now we just want to try to raise awareness of some of the hidden dangers of working in an agricultural environment in the hope that the same thing will not happen to anyone else.'

Mr Whipps, who attended Town Close House School in Norwich and Framlingham College in Suffolk, had been clearing thick slurry from a cattle shed when more slurry in a bulk tank escaped, releasing toxic gases.

His colleague died trying to help him and firefighters drained 120,000 litres (31,700 gallons) of slurry on to a field as part of the rescue operations.

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Michael Wangermann, of East Anglian solicitors Ashton KCJ, is representing Craig's family in a claim against the farm.

He said: 'Craig's family are keen to highlight the issue in the hope that other families will not have to go through the ordeal they are currently enduring. In this case the volume of slurry and the fumes released were overpowering even though the tank was stored outside.

'We are in communication with the farmer's insurance company. They have confirmed that the farmers strongly support the family's campaign to raise awareness of the dangers.

'Whatever financial recompense is made by the insurers will help to ensure Vicky is able to raise her children as far as possible in the same way as she would have done if Craig were still alive and the family's main breadwinner.'

A date for the inquest, which will determine the precise cause of his death, is yet to be set.

The Health and Safety Executive has been investigating but this will not conclude this until the inquest.

A spokesman said that the executive is in the process of redrafting recommendations for dealing with slurry in general, and that for this particular case a prohibition notice was served after the accident and that had been dealt with.

Statistics published by the executive for the 12 month period to the end of March 2011 revealed that there were 42 fatalities in the agricultural sector across the country.

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