Cornish farming company prosecuted for employee fatality

Farming company fined £125,000 for breaching health and safety regulations

A father and son farming company based in Cornwall has been fined £125,000 after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result of the fatal electrocution of one of the farm workers while he was out harvesting in the fields.

The 24-year-old farm worker was working on a potato field on July 3, 2011 at Higher Kergilliack Farm, near Falmouth, when he was struck by a overhead power line, which had been caught by a conveyor connected to the potato harvester on which the Polish man had been working.

Konrad Miskiewicz died as a result of being struck by the 6,300-voltage power line. Truro Crown Court heard how it could not be determined for definite whether Mr Miskiewicz died as a result of the first contact with the power line or by the re-surging power which is emitted to test if the line is actually broken.

The farm owner, Pengelly Farms Limited, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations as set out by the Health and Safety at Work Act. Truro Crown Court was told that the managers had now implemented a number of health and safety improvements, including staff training, and had invested in new equipment which make the farming operations safer.

Pengelly Farms Limited was ordered to pay a £75,000 fine and prosecution costs of £50,000. Judge Simon Carr criticised HSE for taking so long to decide to prosecute the farm, and told the court: “This is not a company that ignored its responsibilities in respect of health and safety … this is a company who long before the prosecution began had learned from this event and I would like to think would never fall foul of it again.”

To find out more about our health and safety services, please click here.