DB Cargo has been fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act for failing to protect the safety of its workers following an incident at its Dollands Moor freight yard in 2018.

Terry Currie, then aged 43 and working as a shunter, suffered life changing injuries, including the amputation of his right arm, when a freight train collided with his vehicle on a level crossing at the yard on 4 September 2018.

The sentence was passed by District Judge Barron at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, following a prosecution by rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

ORR’s prior investigation found DB Cargo had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the movement of people and trains within the yard, and as a result a safe system of work was not implemented to protect workers as they moved around the yard.

Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR said: “These were serious failings by DB Cargo to protect its workers and ensure a safe practice of freight train movements.

“There were clear and obvious risks of serious injury due to the lack of appropriate ways of working. [This] sentence shows how important it is that operators have appropriate practices to ensure worker safety.

“Following the accident, DB Cargo has taken action to mitigate risks but had it properly assessed the risk of a collision beforehand, Mr Currie need not have suffered life changing injury.”

In his remarks, Judge Barron said there was an obvious risk of a collision between people and trains within the yard, which had been foreseen as long ago as 1991 when the yard was designed, before it became operational in 1994. At that time, between eight and 11 track workers or shunters were killed on the railway each year.

Until 2010, safety documentation included a requirement that buggies crossing the sidings should use one of the two subways that were provided at each end of the yard to allow staff access to individual sidings without crossing any tracks.

By 2012, this requirement was no longer included. By 2014, only one of the two subways remained open, but lighting in this subway had failed. Use of this subway was not enforced, so most workers chose to drive across the level crossings instead. There were no barriers, signs or written instructions indicating that vehicles were not allowed to use the level crossings unless signals were being used to stop any approaching trains.

DB Cargo were fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £33,768.61 in costs.

 

As reported on: SHP

NETWORK Rail have been fined £135,000 after admitting health and safety breaches which led to a 13-year-old boy suffering serious injuries from an electric shock. The boy and two friends had managed to reach the track after climbing over fencing that was subsequently found to be “of an inappropriate type, of insufficient height and poorly maintained”.

Network Rail were fined for the safety breach after pleading guilty to an offence under health and safety law.

The incident happened on 19 August 2016 on the railway track near Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh.  The teenagers entered the gap in the railway fence before the 13-year-old climbed onto the roof of a tank wagon on a freight train that was stopped at a set of signals.

He came close to the 25,000-volt overhead cable and received an electric shock that caused serious burns.

A resulting Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigation revealed that although there was clear evidence of trespass and graffiti in the area, the fence provided by Network Rail was substandard and poorly maintained, such that unauthorised access to the railway was straightforward.

HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said: “Network Rail has done a lot of work to limit the number of trespass issues on the railway and raise awareness of the potential life-threatening dangers that can follow.

“But on this occasion, it failed to maintain an adequate boundary to stop people getting onto the railway track and preventing an incident like this occurring.

“The railway is an extremely dangerous environment and I would urge parents to talk to their children about its hazards and remind them to stay away from the tracks.”

Now that the government has finally given HS2 Ltd notice to proceed, construction work on the project is expected to begin by early spring 2021.

In another boost to the industry HS2 Ltd, the body overseeing construction of the new London to Birmingham rail line, has launched a recruitment drive for several hundred extra staff, with at least 300 of those roles being in Birmingham.  This follows last weeks announcement that HS2 has already started the search for contractors for the second phase of the project, seeking ground investigation contractors to work across the northern section of the railway in deals worth up to £250m and lasting up to eight years.

Mark Thurston, chief executive of HS2 Ltd stated: “With many people facing uncertain job security and worried about future prospects in the current crisis, I hope this will be welcome news for anyone seeking a long-term and rewarding career with a company that places health, safety, equality and diversity at the very top of its priority list.  As part of the HS2 team you’ll be shaping British history; transforming our Victorian railways and supporting the regeneration and economic prosperity of towns and cities right along the route.”

This was followed up by Andrew Stephenson, the HS2 minister, stating: “These jobs are a welcome boost for workers across the country at this challenging time, providing the opportunity to play a crucial part in delivering HS2, an integral part of improving connectivity and levelling up our country” and in line with the prime ministers current comments he went on to say “We continue to work with the transport and construction industry to accelerate projects, where safely possible, to kickstart our economy, provide more employment opportunities and drive our recovery as we build out of Covid-19.”

It doesn’t end there as previously reported by ‘theconstructionindex‘:- “an estimated 400,000 supply chain contract opportunities for UK businesses will be created during phase one of HS2, supporting thousands of jobs on site and many more around the country. It is estimated that around 95% of those contract opportunities will be won by UK based businesses and around two thirds of those will be small and medium sized businesses.”

This latest recruitment drive is set to last three months with a range of vacancies being advertised from: from engineering and project management to land, property and procurement. Further details can be found here:  hs2.org.uk/hs2-and-you

The construction sector clearly seems to be facing a turnaround at this time and may well become the focal point in seeing the country through the forecast economic downturn  – make sure that your training is up to date and that you are in a position to benefit, check our course schedule now!

The 13 December 2018 was not a good day for Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of Great Britain’s railway network.

The company were convicted of an offence under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and section 33 (1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, after a 14 day trial back in May, although the jury failed to reach a verdict on a second charge under section 2(1)(a) and 33(1)(a) of the 1974 Act.

Passing sentence today HHJ Statman fined Network Rail £200,000 and charged costs to the sum of £86,000.

The event that led to the subsequent investigation surrounding the then signaller Mr Douglas Caddell, aged 65, who suffered serious injury after being struck by a car whilst attempting to close the level crossing gate at East Farleigh Station in Kent, back in April 2015.

The subsequent investigation undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) identified that Network Rail’s risk assessment was inadequate and failed to provide for the ‘foreseeable risk’ of a driver failing to recognise that the gates were being closed.  As a result Network Rail had failed to protect its employees.

HM Chief Inspector of Railways (Ian Prosser) is quoted as saying:

“Mr Caddell suffered life-changing injuries in this incident and the sentence indicates just how seriously the offence is quite rightly viewed.”

“We are absolutely committed to protecting the health and safety of passengers and railway staff and will not hesitate to take enforcement action or to prosecute when necessary.”

“Network Rail has introduced safety measures at East Farleigh and we would expect to see proper risk assessments made at similar level crossings up and down the country and necessary safety measures taken.”