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Carillion fined £200,000 over Lincolnshire rail worker death

Carillion Construction Ltd has been handed a £200,000 fine and ordered to pay over £36,000 in costs by the rail regulator for breaching health and safety laws, which led to the death of a railway worker.

On 4 December 2012, a train struck and fatally injured self-employed track worker Scott Dobson, who was acting as a controller of site safety (COSS) near Saxilby, Lincolnshire.

In 2013, the RAIB found that he was probably distracted by the noise and work being undertaken on the line, and stepped backwards into the path of the train as it crossed the work site.

Dobson, 26, from Doncaster, had not implemented a Safe System of Work – a formal requirement for work being undertaken on Network Rail infrastructure – and had never been subjected to disciplinary proceedings or other action after two previous safety incidents in the two months before his death.

The agency that hired him, SkyBlue, did not implement any effective formal review of his performance, the original RAIB investigation found, and parent company Carillion did not identify that an effective performance review regime was absent.

As part of its statutory duties, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigated the case and found a number of failings in Carillion’s planning and management of the work.

According to the regulator, only one of the two railway lines had been blocked while maintenance was being carried out, despite the fact that both lines should have been closed to minimise the possibility of workers being struck by passing trains.

Carillion pleaded guilty at Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court today (11 January) to a single charge of failing to discharge a duty under the 1974 Health and Safety Work Act.

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways, said: “This accident was wholly avoidable, had Carillion Construction Ltd followed health and safety rules set out for the railways. Our sympathies are with Mr Dobson’s family.

“The safety of workers and passengers is a top priority for the regulator, which is why ORR inspectors are out on the railway daily, monitoring to ensure safety isn’t compromised.”

During the court hearing, Carillion issued an “unreserved apology” to Dobson’s family and said it had learned lessons from the incident and introduced measures to tighten safety procedures.

(Top image credit: RAIB)


Anon   12/01/2016 at 15:37

This wasn't the first incident with this firm, I worked for SkyBlue Rail for a short period of time along with my father, and when working a short stretch of the East Coast Mainline the whole work group had a near miss with a Train travelling at 125mph when our Lookout was distracted, if it wasn't for a group member looking up and seeing it approach then none of us may be here

Martin Hollands   12/01/2016 at 18:06

Since Privatisation there are increasingly more and more people working on and around the railways who don't have a real understanding of "Railways" and how they operate and the very deadly risks associated with them. Looking at the diagram above, I am gobsmacked that any person acting as a COSS in a possession such as described would take such a position. Had he been a long term railwayman who had grown up in the industry and performed the various track and engineering tasks in his past I am confident that this sort of accident would not have occurred.

Jim Smith   12/01/2016 at 18:38

I cannot believe not one member of the group challenged Scott on his SSOW as you must sign the briefing sheet to confirm you have received it. There needs to be a behaviour change throughout the railway industry where people are rewarded to challenge . I know the route cause of the accident was Scott's SSOW but the bigger issue is the planning process in allowing this to happen. No one should be put under pressure to get the job done. This is the route cause to most accidents on the railway as being an agency worker you are too easy to get rid off. Used and abused.

Anon   12/01/2016 at 22:30

Have read the comments above and in response to j smith above especially and the is not just the contractors that are hushed by NWR and their sponsors also full time employees are made aware that you are despensible,training in house is a joke whereby staff are fast tracked through safety critical courses and certified competent without full training especially graduates,apprentices and new starters who's faces fit,you are made fully aware that reporting of such instances are frowned upon by senior managers and complaints are kept in house and our health and safety staff are scared of their own shadows and run everything by them to ensure waves aren't created.

Anon   13/01/2016 at 10:01

Hopefully this will be a wakeup call for all companies who have sentinel sponsored staff to undertake the required training and assessments in the correct way!!! As many don't!!

Malcolm   13/01/2016 at 13:44

It is not the Rail Regulator who orders fines and costs, it's the court. Please be factually accurate.

Bill   13/01/2016 at 13:52

Does 200k compensate a life , Carillion should had been found 2 million and maybe they would think twice again in not following a basic procedure . I have worked for Sky Blue for Carillion in the past and the way sky blue in recruitment fur Carillion leaves a lot to be desired ....

Paul Scapens   13/01/2016 at 14:26

This death could easily have been prevented by erecting the Rail Safety Systems Magnetically attached Safety Barrier in a few minutes (available exclusively from Innovative railway Safety Ltd 07974 065798) in a line blockage alongside the 'Up line'. It would take 15mins to erect 100m and prevented anybody walking accidentally into the path of the moving trains. Our sympathies to his family.

Lee   13/01/2016 at 14:35

First I would like to say the NWR do not fast track any safety critical training.. Secondly, challenging someone about the safe system of work is in fact encouraged by network rail. As a coss I will never undertake any work, pressured or not, without the proper safe system in place

Paul   13/01/2016 at 14:46

Paul Scapens - using the death of a railway worker to advertise your products really is the lowest of the low

Railwaytrainer   13/01/2016 at 15:50

Had Mr Dobson's previous two incidents been properly investigated, and his COSS competence removed until the conclusion, he would still be alive today.

Jim Smith   13/01/2016 at 20:17

I would like to agree with Lee as a coss I would never undertake any work without a safe system of work in place, but I am a strong person and the company I work for also encourage the work safe procedure. I agree that Networkrail are trying to change the behaviour culture. But in saying that I do not have small children to feed and waiting beside a phone hoping for a couple of shifts knowing if I complain too much I will be put done the pecking order, This is the real railway

Kev   13/01/2016 at 21:23

I totally agree with Jim, rock the boat and an agency worker is tossed overboard, it's sad but true.

ANON   13/01/2016 at 23:13

Carillion /Skyblue previously had a very good reputation until it set out to turn Skyblue into a high Street recruitment business The PLC removed all people with Railway experience for recruitment consultants then wondered where the control had gone ? Reward for Carillion multimillion pound National LNE /LNW renewal contracts The 200k fine will merely cause a ripple in the Carillion coffers ?? The MP Mr Hill was right PLC and big business should not be able to hide behind a big fine !! The decision makers who never managed the business should be held to account Mr Holland is right following privatisation the current railway community are no longer familiar nor comfortable with working in a live line enviroment ?? Simple on the approach of a train on any line move to a place of safety ! What the hell went wrong here in this case ? Even with a line block move to a place of safety !

Martin Kent   14/01/2016 at 07:46

This is a failing of the companies involved who didn't ensure the coss was competent to set up a SSoW after the first incident. The standard of PTS training has improved vastly, people need to speak up if in any doubt on the SSoW established. This is one of the basics and if you don't speak up these things will continue to occur. I can't comment on coss training etc but any trainers not providing competence at the end of the courses need to be reported. We rely on each other when on the railway, let's not forget it. As for the fine, not high enough, no real deterrent.

Richard   26/01/2016 at 18:38

Paul Scapens you should be ashamed of yourself, using a death to advertise your products. Disgusting.

Anon   01/02/2016 at 18:54

I have worked previously alongside Carillion on the railway infrastructure and let's say their 'safety critical' attitude is some what lacking. More of 'Bash on and get the job done' attitude, which is no longer an option these days. The phrase 'too many chiefs' comes to mind when it's getting the job done. A lot of 'bullies' who are 'old school' and that's when accidents or worse happens.

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