Powerline death ‘wholly avoidable’

Chris Tindall
September 17, 2023

A Devon tipper lorry driver died after he was electrocuted when the hydraulic arm of his vehicle came into contact with an overhead powerline. VB Farms has now been fined £60,000 following the death of 43-year-old Patrick ‘Paddy’ Rice in May 2021. Rice, who was employed by Langford Plant Hire, was delivering stone that was going to be used to repair farm tracks in Crediton by VB Farms, when the hydraulic arm of the tipper lorry came into contact with an 11kV overhead power line.He was electrocuted after exiting the lorry.

An investigation into the incident found VB Farms failed to carry out an assessment of how the work could be completed safely and did not consider the dangers involved with working near an overhead power line. Overhead power lines typically carry electricity at voltages similar to the 11 kV in this case, but can go up to 400kV.

HSE inspector James Collins said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident – another sad reminder of the dangers of overhead powerlines. Paddy’s death could easily have been prevented if VB Farms had acted to manage the risks involved and put in place a safe system of work.”

The HSE said the company was also ordered to pay costs of £11,715 after a trial at Exeter Magistrates’ Court.

About the Author


Chris Tindall

Chris Tindall started writing for the haulage and logistics industry in 2002 and quickly realised there was enough going on to keep him busy for a very long time. He’s covered a broad range of significant issues, including GPS jamming by criminals, platooning, Brexit and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lack of safe and secure lorry parks and he helped secure the release of a lorry driver in a Polish jail due to misuse of the European Arrest Warrant.

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