January 25, 2018

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Farmer sentenced after driver electrocuted

A North-West farmer has been sentenced to a conditional discharge after a man was electrocuted when the arm of his lorry mounted crane contacted overhead power lines.

Manchester Crown Court was told how, on 8 April 2016, Matthew Drummond, 29, a self-employed tipper wagon driver, had been in the process of unloading sand at Heaton Farm near Rochdale.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that Mr Drummond had been looking for a site where he could dispose of some waste sand. An arrangement was subsequently made at short notice with a farmer, Mr David Heywood, to dump it on his land.

Contact with overhead lines

The farmer met Mr Drummond at the entrance to the farm who, in his vehicle, led him to the site where the sand was to be tipped. Although overhead power lines (OHPLs) carrying 6,600 volts ran across the site, the farmer did not alert Mr Drummond to their presence or to the risks.

In order to tip the load onto the field Mr Drummond first had to raise the tipper wagon’s crane. The boom of the crane came into contact with the OHPLs, electrocuting him.

David Heywood of Heaton Farm, Heywood Old Road, Middleton pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and has been given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay partial costs of £3,000.

Tragic incident

Speaking after the hearing HSE Principal Inspector Mike Sebastian said: “This tragic incident could easily have been prevented if the farmer had identified and managed the risks involved with overhead power lines on his land, and put a safe system of work in place.

“The dangers associated with OHPLs are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and energy suppliers. HSE leaflet AIS8 Working Safely near Overhead Electricity Power Lines refers to a minimum safe distance of 10 metres horizontally on either side of any overhead lines and duty holders should work to that standard, or an equally safe one.”

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