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Network Rail fined £1.4m following life-changing injuries to employee

Network Rail has been fined £1.4 million for a health and safety breach after an investigation by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

ORR found failings that led to a worker being crushed between the conveyor of a 25 tonne ‘Superboss’ ballast distributor and a Kubota people carrier.

The worker suffered catastrophic and life-changing injuries to his legs and spine. He lost 12cm of bone to his left leg and 4cm to his right leg. The tendons and nerves of his right leg were also irreparably damaged, causing permanent disability.

A second worker suffered minor injuries to his wrist and shoulder from the collision.

The incident happened on 19 September 2018 on a 19 mile stretch of track between Crewe and Chester.

ORR’s investigation led to it prosecuting Network Rail under the Health Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Network Rail was fined after pleading guilty at Chester Magistrates Court.

ORR found failings in Network Rail’s management of the worksite, including:

  • Poor planning.

  • Failure to provide adequate supervision of the works.

  • Poor communication at all levels.

  • Failure to provide adequate information, instructions and training to safety-critical staff.

On sentencing Network Rail, District Judge Sanders stated the subsequent accident was a result of many layers of failure within Network Rail. Judge Sanders said there was a lack of clarity in planning and as to what was going on, insufficiently robust supervision, and operating failures by Network Rail.

ORR's HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE, said: “The injuries sustained to a Network Rail employee on 19 September 2018 were horrendous and have had a devastating impact on him and his family, to whom we offer our heartfelt sympathies.

“The incident was caused by totally inadequate supervision of the task at all levels.

“Nobody was making sure that those under their supervision had been following safe working practices, which led to this incident that could easily have been avoided.”

Network Rail were fined for breaching section 2(1) and (2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA 1974) in that it failed to ensure the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees contrary to s.33(1)(a) of the HSWA 1974. Network Rail were also ordered to pay costs of £63, 118.71 to ORR and a victim surcharge of £190.

ORR May 2022


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