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A Garden centre is charged with corporate manslaughter
Posted by David Cant on November 13, 2012

Norfolk garden nursery has been charged with corporate manslaughter by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to an employee who died two years ago.

On 15th July 2010 Mr. Grzegorz Krystian Pieton met his death after he suffered an electric shock that was caused when a metal hydraulic lift trailer that he was pulling came into got in touch with an overhead line of power.

The incident occurred at Belmont Nursery, in Terrington St Clement. The nursery is managed by PS and JE Ward Limited which is based in King’s Lynn.

The incident was investigated on the same day of occurrence by the HSE and they immediately served the firm with two Prohibition Notices. The first Prohibition Notice related to the operating vehicles of a definite height from closely approaching or coming into contact with the overhead power lines that are in the field that is bordering the nursery buildings.

The second notice related to the movement of metal pipe-work for irrigation under the overhead power lines without undertaking an appropriate risk assessment and putting into practice a safe system of work.

Working close to Overhead Power Lines – Instruction and Information

An additional Prohibition Notice was served a month later to prevent the company from using the trailer after it was found out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency or VOSA that its breaks did not work. The company was also issued with an Improvement Notice to provide instruction, information and training for the workers relating to deliveries and transport close to the overhead power lines. The company complied with all the issued notices.

The principal crown advocate of the Special Crime & Counter Terrorism department of the CPS, Mr. Rene Barclay said on 6th November 2012 that he had carefully considered all the evidence that had been presented to him and he had concluded that it was sufficient to charge PS and JE Ward Limited with corporate manslaughter and also with failure to discharge a duty obligated by section 2(1) of HSWA 1974.

The firm has been summoned to appear on 23 November before King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court. This was the third firm that had been charged with corporate manslaughter by CPS since the Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act was introduced back in 2008. A farming company had earlier this year been slapped with the largest ever safety and health fine in Northern Ireland after the first case of corporate manslaughter there.

Through its solicitors, PS and JE Ward Limited issued a statement saying that Belmont Nursery had worked very closely with the HSE< the Police and all the other agencies that were investigating the occurrence at the nursery. They said that it was not appropriate for them to comment on the case as formal legal proceedings had gotten underway.

They added that everybody at Belmont Nursery remained profoundly saddened by the untimely death of Mr. Pieton and that his family were always in their thoughts.

PS and JE Ward Limited is a small firm that has less than 50 employees and a net asset base of £740,056 according to Dueil, a corporate account information provider. In 2010, the firm had a turnover of £4,277,310.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner with a brain you can pick. Fluent in practical advice. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the Director of life at Veritas Consulting.

You can find him on - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety at Work, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety

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