Network Rail fined 1.4 million pounds for breach of employee safety

Hospital sign

The UK infrastructure agency, Network Rail, has been fined 1.4 million pounds (1.65 million euro) following serious safety failings. The regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, brought the prosecution following life-changing injuries to an employee.

Network Rail was been fined for a health and safety breach after the investigation by the ORR found failings that led to a worker being crushed between the conveyor of a 25 tonne ‘Superboss’ ballast distributor and Kubota people carrier on 19 September 2018.

Permanent disability

The incident happened on a 19-mile stretch of track between Crewe and Chester in North West England. The ORR investigation led to the regulator prosecuting Network Rail under the Health Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Network Rail was fined after pleading guilty at Chester Magistrates Court on 11 May.

A “superboss” vehicle like the one involved in the accident (ORR)

The worker suffered catastrophic and life-changing injuries to his legs and spine, causing permanent disability. A second worker suffered minor injuries to his wrist and shoulder from the collision. ORR found failings in Network Rail’s management of the worksite, including poor planning, failure to provide adequate supervision of the works, poor communication at all levels and failure to provide adequate information, instructions and training to safety-critical staff.

Injuries sustained were horrendous

District Judge Sanders on sentencing Network Rail stated the subsequent accident was a result of many layers of failure within Network Rail. Judge Sanders said there was a lack of clarity in planning, insufficiently robust supervision, and operating failures by Network Rail. “The injuries sustained to a Network Rail employee were horrendous and have had a devastating impact on him and his family, to whom we offer our heartfelt sympathies”, said ORR’s Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser. “The incident was caused by totally inadequate supervision of the task at all levels. “Nobody was making sure that those under their supervision had been following safe working practices, which led to this incident that could easily have been avoided.”

The Office of Rail and Road is the economic and safety regulator of Britain’s railway – including light rail, trams and heritage. As the health and safety regulator for the rail industry, they deliver advice and enforcement to help ensure the safety of both passengers and workers. Network Rail was fined £1.4 million for breaching s.2(1) and (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“HSWA 1974”)y failing to ensure the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees contrary to s.33(1)(a) of the HSWA 1974.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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