Food company prosecuted after worker suffers fatal electrocution
Natures Way Foods Limited was ordered to pay fines and costs of over £200,000 after Bradley Watts, one of its sub-contractors, was fatally electrocuted on 2 June 2011.
On the day in question Mr Watts lagging pipes in the loft space of the Natures Way Foods premises in Chichester, West Sussex, when he came into contact with the 240 volt live electrical cable. An ambulance was called to the scene but he was pronounced dead at the scene by the ambulance crew.
The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) was notified of the accident and subsequently investigated. This investigation found that there had been a failure by Nature Ways Foods to deal with the cables and render them safe. The HSE investigation found concluded that the business had had plenty of opportunities to deal with redundant cabling in the loft but the employees at the premises had always simply assumed that the cables were not live. The report concluded by finding that should the cabling had been removed or dealt with in a systematic manner then the fatal accident could have been avoided. It also stated that further checks of the loft could have determined that there had been previous poor practice in dealing with the cabling. The HSE investigation therefore recommended that Nature Ways Foods be prosecuted for health and safety failings.
The case came to the Chichester Crown Court on 8 May 2015. Natures Way Food Limited pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was as a result fined £170,000 and ordered to pay £35,043 in costs.
Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Businesses must ensure that they have taken reasonably practicable steps to ensure that their premises will not harm the health, safety or welfare or employees, workers or third parties. If a business fails to take reasonably practicable steps and an employee, worker or third party is injured or killed as a result then the business is opening itself up to not only civil litigation but also criminal prosecution, as in this case.”