A farm has been fined £60,000 following the the death of a man who was electrocuted on the site while operating a tipper lorry.

Patrick Rice died after being electrocuted by an overhead power line whilst operating the lorry at VB Farms LLP’s Littlecombe Farm in Credition, Devon.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, which occurred on May 13, 2021, found that VB Farms LLP failed to carry out an assessment of how the work could be completed safely.

The company did not consider the dangers involved with working near an overhead power line, Britain’s workplace regulator said.

Rice’s mother, Fran Rice, said her family have been “traumatised and deeply shocked” since the 43-year-old lost his life from the incident.

The father of three was employed by Langford Plant Hire and was delivering stone to be used for farm track repair, when the hydraulic arm of the tipper lorry came into contact with an 11kV overhead power line.

Rice was electrocuted after exiting the lorry.

HSE inspector James Collins said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident – another sad reminder of the dangers of overhead powerlines. 

“Paddy’s death could easily have been prevented if VB Farms LLP had acted to manage the risks involved and put in place a safe system of work.”

VB Farms LLP, of Love Street, Chester, was found guilty of breaching Regulations 3(1) and 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 following a trial at Exeter Magistrates’ Court.

The company was ordered to pay costs of £11,715 as well as the fine of £60,000.

Patrick Rice

Fran Rice said in a statement presented in court that her son was “an extremely practical person” who was very popular and had loads of friends.

“Since the loss of Paddy, we are all traumatised and deeply shocked. It has all been hazy,” she said.

“We find it difficult to talk about what happened, Gordon, Paddy’s dad, does not talk a lot about it.

“We are living in a life that is carrying on and ours isn’t, we are not fitting in, we go out and want to enjoy what we do but it is never quite there.”

Patrick Rice’s partner, Michele Webber, said in her personal victim statement: “When the accident happened, I was off work for about five months.

“My memory is terrible since it happened and I am stuck on the day of the accident. I feel like I have no purpose or joy and no future.”