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Estate agent and forklift operator prosecuted after electric shock incident

overhead power linesA farmer from Holford received an electric shock when the forks of the fork lift materials handler he was riding on came into contact with an 11,000 volt overhead power line, Taunton Deane Magistrates’ Court heard.

The accident happened in April 2011 at the machinery auction site at Walford Cross, organised and managed by estate agents and auctioneers Greenslade Taylor Hunt.

In a case brought by Taunton Deane Borough Council's Food and Safety team on 12 April 2013, the Greenslade Taylor Hunt partnership pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.  They were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 to the Council in costs.

In addition Mr Paul Davey, the contractor operating the vehicle for Greenslade Taylor Hunt, pleaded guilty of an offence under Section 3(2) of the same Act and was fined £500.

Taunton Deane Magistrates' Court was told the accident occurred the day following the sale.  The farmer, Fred Stone, was riding on the outside of the vehicle while it was being driven across the field to collect the machinery he had purchased.

The extended forks of the vehicle came into contact with the overheard power cable and he received an electric shock which threw him from the side of the vehicle.  He was taken to Musgrove Park hospital by ambulance and still suffers with symptoms that he attributes to the accident.

The Court heard there was not a procedure for managing contractors and that risk assessments had not been carried out for the site, despite being directed to do so by the National Farmers Union who carried out a procedures' audit for the auction in 2008.  Greenslade Taylor Hunt had not checked for the presence of overhead power lines and so had not put in place safe working practices or discussed the hazard and ways to control risks with contractors working on the site.

Mr Davey, despite being trained, did not assess the risks on the auction site and allowed the farmer to be carried as a passenger.


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