A FARM has been fined £60,000 after a 43 year-old tipper truck driver was electrocuted as he delivered stone on their land.
Paddy Rice was killed when he stepped out of his truck which had struck 11,000 volts overhead power lines in a field near a huge log pile where he had been told to tip the stone.
Exeter Magistrates Court was told the log pile was the third “overflow” area where the stone was to be tipped which was along a track on the 2,000 acre estate.
Witness Martin Bragg said overhead power cables should be a “red flag” to drivers of diggers and tipper lorries.
Father of three Paddy, from Copplestone, near Crediton, was on his third drop at the site at VB Farms Spreyton estate at Spreyton near Crediton in May 2021 when the tragic incident happened.
The 6' 6" tall worker was described as a “very experienced sensible driver” and his family said he was a “kind, hard working man who is dreadfully missed”.
Farm manager George Perrott told the court he knew there were pylons in the field but did not think they posed an “excessive risk”.
He said signage systems had changed since the incident.
VB Farms - which has no previous convictions - denied breaching Health and Safety at Work laws in that work was carried out near overhead power lines in such a manner as to give rise to danger and exposing Paddy Rice and others to the risk of death.
District Judge Stuart Smith found the farm guilty after a one day trial saying which end of the log pile the stone was to be tipped was open to misinterpretation and no-one had shown Paddy Rice where to do this in person, unlike two previous sites where he had tipped the day before.
He said a risk assessment was not considered which could have saved Mr Rice from this “tragic and devastating” incident.
The court was told that health and safety standards at the farm were “far in excess of farming standards” and the farm also relied on external health and safety advisors.
But the judge said on this occasion measures were not adhered to or implemented and said farm manager Mr Perrott did not give regard to the power lines for works in that location.
The farm, which had a £1 million turnover in the last three years, said it had made improvements, introducing a mapping and bar code system.
It has got Western Power to map precisely where every overhead power cable is on its land.
The £60,000 fine and costs of £11,900 will be paid within 28 days.