Utility company guilty of breach after tragic death of worker

John Flowers

John Flowers

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A major utility firm has been found guilty of a health and safety offence following the death of a worker.

John Flowers died after falling from an electricity pole while clearing tree branches from around power lines in Gregson Lane, Hoghton, on November 22, 2014.

Electricity North West was convicted of failing to ensure the work at height was properly managed but was cleared of failing to adequately assess risk and exposing employees to risk of harm at Preston Crown Court.

The 63-year-old, who had two years left until retirement, had never had a day off sick in 33 years and even told his loved ones he wanted to work an extra year because he loved his job.

He accidentally severed a lanyard as he cleared ivy growth from a pole he was working on, causing him to fall.

The jury was told a subsequent Health and Safety Executive investigation that followed his death identified “numerous problems and issues” including that two surveys - one five years earlier - had noted the dangers from ivy growth on the pole but neither had been acted on.

Mr Flowers, of New Hall Lane, Preston, was a regular at Acregate Labour Club in Preston. His wife Teresa, children and grandchildren have been in court throughout the month long case.

Today his daughter Tracy said: “Our heads are spinning from the decision. It’s been a long four weeks and we are not sure how take it.

“ We are obviously pleased they’ve been convicted on one of the charges - but we always believed all three offences were interlinked.”

John, who had just celebrated his ruby wedding, was described as “larger than life” with a great sense of humour.

The company will be sentenced on March 31.

A spokesman said the firm “pledged to continue its commitment to the safety of its staff”.