PS & JE Ward who run a flower nursery have been charged with corporate manslaughter in relation to the death of an employee in 2010.

The accident occurred at their Belmont Nursery in King’s Lynn.

Grezegorz Krystian Pieton died on 15th July 2010 when a metal hydraulic-trailer lifter he was towing touched an overhead power line, electrocuting him as a result. PS & JE is a small company with fewer than 50 employees. PS & JE Ward issued a statement through its solicitors, saying: “Belmont Nursery has worked closely with Police, the HSE and other agencies investigating the incident at the nursery. As formal legal proceedings are now underway, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any aspect of the case at this time”.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) now believe that there is sufficient evidence to charge PS & JE Ward with corporate manslaughter and failing to discharge a duty imposed by section 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. It will be interesting to see if the prosecution brings any further clarification of certain elements of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. This will be only the third time that the CPS have sought to prosecute under the Act, the last time being the case of R v Lion Steel Equipment Ltd. It does not appear at this stage that any directors face prosecution.

On the day that accident occurred AT Belmont Nursery, the HSE investigated, immediately served the company with two Prohibition Notices. One of the Prohibition Notices related to the movement of metal irrigation pipework under the overhead lines without undertaking a suitable risk assessment and implementing a safe system of work. The second Prohibition Notice related to the operation of vehicles of a certain height from coming into contact with or closely approaching the overhead power lines in the field adjacent to the nursery buildings. In the following month a further Prohibition Notice was served. This was to prevent the use of the trailer after the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) found that the brakes did not work. An Improvement Notice was also issued to PS & JE Ward, requesting that the company provide information, instruction and also training for employees which related to transport and deliveries that were close to overhead power lines. The company complied with all of the notices.

The company has been summonsed to appear before Kings Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Friday 23rd November 2012.