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10.11.14

Network Rail takes ‘hard line’ with BAM Nuttall over safety accidents

Network Rail summoned the CEO of civil engineering company BAM Nuttall to attend its recent Executive Committee meeting to explain a series of serious accidents. 

Minutes of the latest board meeting say: “There had been several serious incidents with one particular supplier and the CEO of that supplier had been asked to attend the Executive Committee to explain their response and plans to improve.” 

It was also noted that a “hard line” had been taken with this supplier, and been “communicated” to all major suppliers. 

Although BAM Nuttall was not named in the minutes, the company has confirmed that its boss, Stephen Fox, attended the meeting – and “reaffirmed” the company’s commitment to health and safety. 

BAM Nuttall, which can trace its history back to 1865 and which was acquired by the Royal BAM Group in 2002, had a turnover of £756m in 2013. 

The company was fined £140,000 recently following a prosecution by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law in 2010 when, during the replacement of a South London railway bridge, construction worker Ben Polidano was crushed under a six tonne concrete and steel beam. He suffered severe injuries which led to one leg being amputated, and he has since suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and needs further operations. 

BAM Nuttall was Network Rail’s principal contractor to demolish and replace Pouparts Bridge, between Clapham Junction and Battersea Park. It had sub-contracted the lifting elements to Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd. 

Tom Wake, the Office of Rail Regulation’s principal inspector of railways for the south east, said BAM Nuttall had failed to assess the risks of loading and unloading the beams, and had not planned the activity. The company provided no information about the potential instability of the concrete beam to the workers. 

“These serious failings are not acceptable conduct from a company in charge of high-risk construction sites across Britain’s railways,” said Wake. 

Another BAM Nuttall worker has been involved in a crushing accident recently, this time while working on Cardiff Central station. He was crushed under a piece of machinery known as a brick grab. 

BAM Nuttall, which was Network Rail’s fourth largest supplier in 2013-14, stated that the company’s safety record was “among the best in the industry” and cited awards that have been “made by Network Rail itself”. 

Network Rail’s minutes added that non-executive board member Malcolm Brinded made the point that all the actions that the company [BAM Nuttall] are taking in this area were the “right ones” but that these needed to be underpinned by “incredibly strong leadership” and a “culture change programme”. 

Mark Carne, chief executive at Network Rail, advised that the Planning & Delivering Safe Work programme would fundamentally change the nature of the approach to frontline safety and that “nevertheless he would reflect further on that challenge”. 

A BAM Nuttall spokesperson told RTM: “The company has a record which is among the best in the industry and has been subject to recognition by awards made by Network Rail itself. 

“In mitigation BAM Nuttall has since received plaudits from Network Rail for the emergency work carried out at Dawlish, to reinstate the mainline, following the storms in March. This project has been subject to many commendations within the industry including the award of the ICE Brunel Medal. Network Rail has also expressed its total satisfaction on the progress being made in the construction of the Borders Railway in Scotland as expressed by Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive, who attended a track laying ceremony recently. 

“The company has invested over £2m in a culture change programme known as Beyond Zero, which has made a significant difference in empowering employees and has had a profound effect in heightening awareness on personal health and safety issues.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Overtime   08/10/2015 at 00:12

Bam has went down hill now and now has people sitting at home !

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