A farmer was crushed to death after a wall collapsed during demolition work on his farm, a sheriff has ruled.
Philip Reid, 58, was working at Newseat of Dumbreck Farm near Pitmedden, near Ellon, when the horror accident occurred.
He pushed a partly destroyed wall which caused a gable end to fall and land on top of him.
Emergency services raced to the scene but dairy farmer Mr Reid, who had been a tenant on the farm since 1998, died shortly after arriving at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in May 2016.
A fatal accident inquiry at Aberdeen Sheriff Court has now ruled his death could have been prevented had an exclusion zone been created around the wall where the work was being carried out.
Sheriff Ian Wallace also said failure to discuss, assess, create and observe an exclusion zone at the farm contributed to the death.
He also recommended that the Health and Safety Executive (HES) make farm workers aware of risks before beginning demolition work.
The inquiry heard that Mr Reid had wanted to improve four buildings on the farm after deciding they were no longer fit for purpose.
A colleague saw him push the wall and screamed for him to move after seeing it move but Mr Reid was only able to take a step back before being pinned down by rubble.
A digger raised the collapsed wall off the ground and Mr Reid was able to tell paramedics he had severe pain in his chest and legs but he passed away hours later.
In a written judgment, Sheriff Wallace said: “An exclusion zone will not necessarily identify dangers which workers would otherwise be unaware of, nor make it impossible for them to enter the identified unsafe area.
“The reasons, however, for agreeing an exclusion zone in advance, are clear.
“Identifying an exclusion zone focusses minds on the relevant dangers. it means workers do not have to repeatedly assess those dangers in the course of their work.
“It sets a clear expectation which all workers are expected to comply with, and serves as a constant reminder. It guards against complacency and momentary lapses in judgement.”
The sheriff added: “The formal identification of such areas would have dad the effect of inhibiting those involved in the works, including Mr Reid, from entering any such danger area.
“Put shortly, if Mr Reid, when he returned to the steading area later in the afternoon of 28 May 2016, had seen or been aware of a marked exclusion zone around the partly demolished long stone and lime wall and gable end, he might realistically have been less likely to approach that wall and push it.
“The existence of an exclusion zone might therefore realistically have avoided the accident which resulted in his death.”
Tributes paid to north-east farmer killed in tragic demolition accident
A neighbour close to Mr Reid said: “When I heard the news it was total and utter shock, I saw the fire engines and the police but I never imagined it would be something like this.
“Phil was a great neighbour and I had known him for many years, it will definitely be a loss in our community and my thoughts are with the family.”
Another added: “The whole thing is devastating.
“I would always see him out and about on his tractor and he’d wave, but today it was quiet and that will take some getting used to.”
A local mechanic in Pitmedden said work at the farm had been going on for “some time” and said Mr Reid’s death was “sad news for everyone”.
He said: “Phil was well-known locally, it was a terrible accident.”
Councillor Paul Johnston added: “The individual was well known in the farming community, it is a tight-knit community and everybody knows everybody else. It will be a shock to everyone who knew the person.
“Many people are very upset. It will be extremely upsetting for other farmers and people in agriculture around about.”