Farmer punished for electrocution of tipper driver

Commercial Motor
January 29, 2018


A North West farmer has been given a conditional discharge after a tipper driver was electrocuted when the arm of his lorry-mounted crane touched overhead power lines.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Matthew Drummond, 29, a self-employed tipper driver and father of two, was unloading sand at Heaton Farm, near Rochdale, when he was killed in the accident in 2016.

A subsequent HSE investigation found that Drummond had been looking for a site where he could dispose of some waste sand. He made an arrangement at short notice with farmer David Heywood to dump it on his land.

Heywood met the tipper driver at the entrance to his farm and showed him where the sand was to be tipped. Although overhead power lines carrying 6,600 volts ran across the site, the farmer did not alert the driver to their presence.

In order to tip the load Drummond had first to raise the tipper wagon’s crane. The boom came into contact with the power lines, electrocuting him.

Heywood pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act and was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay partial costs of £3,000.

HSE principal inspector Mike Sebastian said after the hearing: “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 overhead power lines are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from the HSE and energy suppliers.  HSE leaflet AIS8 ‘Working Safely Near Overhead 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.”

An earlier inquest into the tragedy heard that immediately after it happened the farmer worked desperately to try to save Drummond.

Heywood also suffered a major electric shock and ended up recovering in hospital after being thrown backwards.

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