Death of young 18-year-old from Billinghay electrocuted on farm was accidental says jury

Farming news.
Farming news.

An inquest jury has concluded that the death of an 18-year-old from Billinghay was accidental.

Jackson Maplethorpe was working on the family farm at Digby Fen when the tractor and trailer he was driving came into contact with overhead power lines, electrocuting him.

The tractor got stuck on the line and when he tried to get out to free it he fatally electrocuted, dying at the scene from his injuries.

Mr Maplethorpe attended St George’s Academy and was studying agriculture at Riseholme College.

After the conclusion of the two-day hearing at the Lincoln Cathedral Centre on Tuesday, Health and Safety Inspector Martin Giles said the HSE was yet to make a decision on the outcome of the inquest.

but he warned that at this time of year, with many farm vehicles active on farms around harvest time it was most important for all farmworkers to be aware of overhead power lines and take care.

He advised: “Before you get into doing such operations, think about where the power lines are on your farm. In our area you can check with Western Power Distribution and ask where the lines cross your land and what heights they are at. Then you need to get that information put onto the farm map. It is important for you as the farmer and any subcontractors that come along to know what height they can work at.”

He went on: “There are a whole range of operations that can cause problems from irrigation and using bale handling equipment, such as telehandlers, to tipping trailers that bring you into contact with cables. You need to plan those activities away from cables.”

Mr Giles offered advice if things do go wrong and your equipment comes into contact with the overhead cables. If you are in the vehicle, stay there and call Western Power Distribution on 105 for help and to get them to switch the power off. If you can drive away safely without bringing the cables down then do so, but if unsure stay put.

If the vehicle catches fire or your life is in danger, you can jump clear from the vehicle, but make sure you jump as far away as possible and do not complete the circuit by touching the ground while still touching the vehicle.

Mr Giles said: “There are lots of big vehicles on farms now that were not around 20 to 30 years ago that are a lot closer to the height of overhead lines. It is about planning beforehand rather than reacting afterwards.”

You can view a guide to safe procedures here.