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Farm Employee Electrocution Results in Huge Fine for Firm
Posted by David Cant on May 25, 2011

Death by Electrocution

In 2007, a farm worker was electrocuted while he was harvesting crops.  Edward Pybus, aged just 21 years old, was working at the Crystal Palace Farm when the spout of the combine harvester made contact with a power line above.  He was hit with 6,300 volts and died as a result of his injuries.

The company he was employed by, Velcourt Ltd attended Salisbury Crown Court where they pleaded guilty for breaching health and safety regulations. Velcourt Ltd was fined £125,000 and was also made to pay costs of a further £45,000.

Lack of Health and Safety Training Put Working in Danger

The Health and Safety Executive discovered that there was an issue with the grain spout.  This meant that as Mr Pybus was harvesting the crop with the spout extended above the combine harvester.  The machine had collected soil and stones and Mr Pybus had to get out in order to deal with the blockage but was unaware that the spout was touching the power line above. He was shocked as he got out of the combine harvester.

A Health and Safety inspector said that their investigation showed that the Herefordshire based farming firm did not carry out adequate inspections and also failed to monitor, provide supervision and audit their health and safety management at the farm in Ludgershall where Mr Pybus was working on 6 August. The firm also neglected to ensure that their farm management had the proper training regarding Health and Safety which can be provided by health and safety consultants.

First Commercial Harvest Ended in Disaster

Mr Pybus was electrocuted after his managers failed to recognise the risk that the raised grain spout caused.  There was no consideration to the fact that it may touch the overhead power lines.  This meant that the young farm hand was sent out to do his first ever commercial harvest using a large combine harvester was put at great risk.  Unfortunately this left his family and girlfriend grieving.

His mother, Rachel Pybus, spoke after the case stating that her son was looking forward to starting a new job and making a home with his girlfriend.  His friends and family still cannot come to terms with the fact that he has gone.  She hopes that this case will cause the farming industry as a whole to make sure that they do all that is possible to improve the safety of farming and will generally improve their practices.

Training Can Help Avoid Disaster

Health and Safety consultants can help to ensure that your management team are fully trained.  This can help your firm stay within the laws regarding health and safety, and help your managers to ensure that the correct policies are created and monitored in the workplace.

This is just one of the health and safety services offered by Veritas Consulting.  You can send your employees on training courses such as:

  • General Health and Safety
  • Risk Assessment and Report Statement Writing
  • Site Managers Safety Training Scheme
  • First Aid Training Course

These are just some of the courses available from the Health and Safety consultants at Veritas. Call 0800 1488 677 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 1488 677 end_of_the_skype_highlighting and talk to the experts to find out more.


Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

You can find him across Social media - Twitter and Facebook also Linkedin

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

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