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Farmer in court over driver’s electrocution

Date:
12 January 2015

A Salisbury farm owner has been fined after an HGV driver was electrocuted while making a delivery to his farm.

Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard today (8 Jan) that self-employed HGV driver Nigel Fox was delivering cattle feed to Tony Slade’s Chestnut Tree Farm in Sutton Mandeville on 2 November 2012.

Mr Fox, (who was 59 at the time)*, from Northamptonshire, was raising the tipper body of his articulated lorry when it hit the 11kV overhead power line which crossed the farmyard close to the feed silo which he was trying to fill.

Mr Fox was electrocuted and died at the scene. He was discovered by an electricity supply network engineer who was sent out to locate the line fault a short while later.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Slade had made no attempt to remove or reduce the serious risk associated with the power line crossing the yard, by diverting the cable or providing signs or barriers to warn visitors of its existence – despite its proximity to the cattle feed offloading point.

Tony Slade of Sutton Mandeville, Salisbury, Wiltshire, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,609 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Andy Shaw said:

“Overhead power lines are dangerous, particularly where they cross traffic routes or frequently used work areas. Those in control of work premises, whether they are employers or self-employed, need to identify the risks to people working at or visiting their premises.

“Power cables present a very serious danger, with potential loss of life, and should be either moved, made safe by other means or, where this is not practical, clearly marked to warn people of the danger. 

“Had Mr Slade had the power lines diverted, as he did after the incident,  or even put in place measures to make people aware of the power lines, such as providing information, barriers or signs, this terrible incident would not have happened and Mr Fox would likely still be here today.”

Sally Fox, Nigel’s widow, said:

“Nigel was known for being a diligent, responsible worker, a talented musician, and a much loved and respected member of the community.  Many people have spoken about how they appreciated his kindness, his sense of humour, his contribution to his community, his music, and his expertise at rugby. He played 274 games for the Northampton Saints from 1973 to 1990.

“Besides myself, he left two children, Harriet and George, and a devoted sister, Jackie.  For the family members most close to him, his untimely death has resulted in intense grief and a sense of loss that, over two years later, the family is still struggling to come to terms with. 

“From my perspective as his wife, the stress, anxiety, and sadness have taken an unmistakable toll on my emotional and physical wellbeing. I have been unable to work, which has resulted in an unrecoverable career.

“Tragically, the entire family is painfully aware that Nigel will never see, hold, or play with his new granddaughter, Tilly, and he will never see his children married or walk his daughter down the aisle. His own ambition as a musician and his desire to start a new business and happy life with me, his wife, can no longer be fulfilled.”

 Guidance on working near overhead power cables can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/information/overhead.htm

 *Correction – Mr Fox was 59 at the time of the incident, not 63, as previously reported.

 Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states that: “It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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