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Babcock fined £400,000 after track worker crushed near Hope station

Engineering firm Babcock Rail has been fined nearly half a million pounds for breaching health and safety laws when an employee was knocked unconscious by a road-rail vehicle (RRV).

Lee Woolley was struck while renewing track in Flintshire in north-east Wales, causing him to get trapped between the RRV and the platform edge at Hope station.

The incident in March 2013, which left him with injuries to his legs, abdomen and back, was brought to trial at Mold Crown Court by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The regulator’s investigation found the engineering company was aware that there was a risk of collision between maintenance RRVs and workers renewing the track at the station, but did not take appropriate steps to prevent harm.

The ORR also identified inadequate planning, coordination and communication between the company’s managers. A 3mph speed limit for vehicles was not being monitored or enforced, and there were no attempts to set up exclusion zones or positions of safety for those working near moving vehicles.

Adrian Farrow, prosecuting on behalf of the ORR, said the injured worker was left on crutches and off work for six weeks, and was lucky he had not been killed.

Babcock pleaded guilty at Mold Magistrates’ Court on 15 January to breaching the Health and Safety Work Act 1974, and was sentenced late last week. If it had not pleaded guilty to the offence, the fine would have ballooned to around £600,000.

The court also issued a separate £33,000 bill for costs.

Ian Prosser, chief inspector of railways, said: “This was an avoidable incident which left a rail worker with serious injuries. Babcock Rail’s safety management fell below the standards required, as inadequate planning and coordination of track renewals placed workers in unnecessary danger.

“Safety of rail workers is one of the regulator’s key priorities and we will take appropriate action against companies or individuals wherever failings are found.”

According to local media, Andrew Longdon, defending the company during the sentencing hearing, said that health and safety was Babcock’s top priority and said such track operations are carried out safely up and down the country.

Station CCTV footage that captured the night’s events has since been used to train other staff as to what can happen when regulations are not adhered to, Longdon said.

“I suspect that is more effective that all those lectures, spreadsheets and books. I think it was a very clever and astute thing for them to have done,” he added.

(Top image c. El Pollock under Creative Commons)


Douglas Robinson   08/02/2016 at 10:10

The caption and the photo are of Hope Station in Derbyshire, but the report is of an accident in North Wales. Before RTM condemn the laxity in others, they should look at their own work.

RTM   08/02/2016 at 10:21

Apologies for the archive error Douglas, thanks for spotting that. Corrected!

Manek Dubash   09/02/2016 at 13:42

To be fair, Douglas, I don't think RTM was "condemning laxity in others". It's a news site so reporting news such as objectively this is its business.

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