Latest Rail News

22.04.13

Companies fined after ballast regulator crushes worker’s face

Two companies have been fined £60,000 and must pay costs of £29,728 after an incident in which one rail worker had his face crushed and suffered brain damage, and another injured his left eye and face.

They were using a hydraulic car jack to support an internal part of a ballast regulator – which they should not have been doing – when it collapsed.

Babcock Rail and Swietelsky Construction were prosecuted by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law that led to the incident on 25 March 2009 at the Whitemoor Rail Depot in Cambridgeshire.

The ORR investigation found that Babcock Rail and Swietelsky Construction had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for replacing wear plates inside the ballast regulator, which it called “a dangerous piece of equipment that can easily crush a worker”. It also found that no safety briefing or employee training for replacing the wear plates on the ballast machine had taken place. This led to their employees deciding for themselves how to carry out work, and therefore exposed them to unnecessary risks and ultimately an incident that left the two workers hospitalised with serious head injuries.

Babcock Rail and Swietelsky Construction were charged are under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. At a hearing on 5 October 2012 at Cambridge Crown Court, Swietelsky Construction pleaded guilty. Babcock Rail pleaded guilty to the charges in January 2013.

Tom Wake, ORR’s Principal Inspector (South East), Railway Safety, said: “No employee should ever be set to work on dangerous machinery without appropriate support and training. In this instance, on 25 March 2009, Swietelsky Construction and Babcock Rail caused two rail workers to suffer serious head injuries at the Whitemoor Rail Depot because of poor planning and lack of employee training.

“The sentence passed today demonstrates how seriously the court considers these criminal breaches of health and safety law. ORR will keep pressing the industry to ensure the safety of those working on Britain’s railways, bringing criminal prosecutions where necessary.”

Swietelsky Construction was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs.

Babcock Rail was fined £36,000 and ordered to pay £16,728.17 in costs.

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