One or two people are killed every year in incidents involving overhead power lines on farmland, an inquest into an Elton man’s death heard today (January 19).
Scrap metal collector Edward Evans, 52, was electrocuted when the crane he was operating hit overhead electricity lines on Holme Farm in Ince in 2015.
Witness Jane Carroll, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, said power lines were a 'very well known hazard' and had been 'for a very long time'.
Ms Carroll added that the onus is on land owners to put warning signs in place and make sure people know about them.
Mr Evans, known to friends as 'Pudgie', was helping his friend Thomas Harker to collect intermediate bulk container (IBC) cages that were discarded at the farm.
Today at Warrington Coroners Court a 10-member jury recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
Ms Carroll was the last of 14 witnesses to give evidence before coroner Nicholas Leslie Rheinberg during the two-day inquest.
She told the court that there are an average of 35 fatal workplace injuries in the agriculture profession in England and Wales each year.
Of those, 3% or 1.2 are deaths due to power line strikes.
Following Mr Evans untimely death on January 17, 2015, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ran an investigation into safety measures at Holme Farm.
Both he and Mr Harker were unsupervised when they attempted to collect the scrap metal and were not warned about the overhead lines.
“If you have power lines on your land you must risk assess any operation that may go near that land,” Ms Carroll stressed.
When asked about a warning sign that was in place where Mr Evans’ crane struck the lines, she indicated that it was very small.
However she said that the farm had since made extensive moves to improve safety at the site in order to meet national guidelines.
The safety inspector stressed that any land owner unsure of the rules and regulations surrounding power lines can visit the HSE website.
“We would never shut the door on anybody,” she said.
Witness statements described Mr Evans, as ‘a larger than life character’ who was ‘respected in the community’.
The court heard that he had ‘hypersensitivity to bright light’ following a head trauma in 2010 and was unable to read or write.
A report from consultant pathologist Jacqueline Elder stated that Mr Evans had no alcohol or intoxicating substances in his blood.
Holme Farm, run by father and son team John and David Willis of JH Willis and Son, specialises in live stock and slurry storage.