Evidence continues in fatal plunge trial

Jurors are continuing to hear evidence in the case of a utility firm accused of health and safety breaches following the fatal fall of a worker.
John FlowersJohn Flowers
John Flowers

Electricity North West, which operates and maintains the North West’s electricity distribution network, denies failing to carry out a risk assessment for employees working at height, and contravening work at height regulations by failing to ensure work at a site on Gregson Lane, Hoghton, was properly planned and supervised.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution after the tragic death of employee John Flowers in November 2013.

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The grandfather plunged five to six metres from an electricity pole while clearing ivy growth with a saw which cut through his safety equipment.

It is said the ivy had obscured his safety lanyard which was severed.

The 63-year-old, from New Hall Lane, Preston, had been working in the area with a fellow linesman to make the electricity lines dead to allow tree cutters to carry out work to remove vegetation from power lines.

The trial has been told Mr Flowers had used a ladder to climb up the pole as no mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), which are used to keep workers at height safe, was available to him.

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The court previously heard two surveys - one five years earlier - had noted the dangers from ivy growth on the pole he had climbed up, and that it was rotting, but neither had been acted on.

The Health and Safety Executive claims the work at height on the pole could have been avoided altogether if the previous two surveys had been acted upon.

It is also claimed no risk assessment was shown to Mr Flowers and his colleague.

Six people have given evidence so far in the trial, and statements from witnesses who haven’t attended court are currently being admitted as part of the prosecution case at Preston Crown Court.