The owner of a farm near the Salisbury town of Ludgershall in Wiltshire has been fined more than £120,000 over the accidental death of a young employee back in 2007.
The employee, 21-year-old Edward Pybus, was working on a combine harvester at Chute Farm owned by Velcourt Ltd, when the incident occurred. The grain spout of the vehicle touched an 11,000-volt power line and gave him a fatal 6,300-volt electric shock when he stepped out of the vehicle to clear something off the ground.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the tragic incident, and found that Herefordshire-based Velcourt had failed to properly inspect, monitor and supervise health and safety management at Chute Farm. It was also revealed that there had been a ‘near miss’ the previous year involving power lines and the same vehicle, but this had not been reported to company management.
Velcourt Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide a safe working environment for employees and to breaching part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The firm was fined a total of £120,000 plus court costs of £45,000. The fine will presumably be covered by the company’s employers’ liability insurance, a type of professional insurance all businesses with employees are legally required to have.