Category Archives: Accidents in Railway Yards

Two Companies fined £60,000 after Two Employees were Seriously Injured

After serious injuries were sustained by two rail workers in an accident in Whitemoor railway yard, a rail firm and construction company have been fined £60,000. In 2009, the two were repairing a machine for redistributing ballast along the railway line when their accident occurred. The two men were injured after supporting an internal part of the ballast regulator with a hydraulic car jack that should not have been used. The car jack subsequently collapsed and crushed one of the employees. The man, who was an employee of Swietelsky Construction, sustained multiple facial fractures and to this day still suffers from a brain injury because of it. The other man, a Babcock rail employee, suffered injury to his left eye and face.

After the accident the Office of Rail Regulation were called in to investigate and was followed by a Cambridge Crown Court where the rail firm and construction company were fined. The Court learned that Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction had failed to carry out necessary risk assessment protocols for the replacement of wear plates inside the ballast regulator, which is a piece of equipment that can be hazardous and potentially collapse and crush a worker if not assessed correctly. It was also learned that employees were not sufficiently trained and briefed about how to safely replace the wear plates. Because of this, employees were forced to figure out how to carry out this work themselves, which exposed them to unnecessary risks.

Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction were charged under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Swietelsky Construction pleaded guilty at a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court in October 5. Babcock Rail pleaded guilty in January.

The Orr’s principle inspector for south east Railway Safety, Tom Wake, said on the matter: “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.”

Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction were fined a total of £29,728 in costs.

Railway Company Fired After Worker Suffers Injury Twice

Keith Hawley, a retired rail worker from , Chaddesden who claims that he was sacked after following two incidents where he sustained serious injuries at work has stated that he felt relieved after the company involved, Balfour Beatty, was ordered to pay fines of £8,000 and costs of £41,438 by  Nottingham Crown Court for violating health and safety regulations. Mr Hawley worked for Balfour Beatty for 12 years. He sustained two hand injuries less than a year apart and claims that the company later saw that he was “dismissed for gross misconduct”. Consequently, he developed depression but said that he still felt a sense of “closure” due to the Nottingham Crown Court verdict

The first accident occurred when Mr Hawley was trying to move a large piece of rail track into a press at the Balfour Beatty factory in Sandiacreub May 2009 . His right hand was subsequently caught between the rail and a conveyor roller and two of his fingers were crushed and he sustained flesh wounds. In March 2010, while carrying out the same work, Mr Hawley’s other hand was also seriously injured after becoming trapped. His left little finger was crushed and partial amputation was required for his ring finger. Following this, a disciplinary action was held against him and he was subsequently fired. He went on to say that he settled out of court prior to an unfair dismissal tribunal being held.

The HSE investigation discovered that when both incidents occurred, the roller machine did not have a sufficient guarding system that would leave workers adequately protected. Apparently the company was actually in the middle of fitting a guarding system because of the first accident, but it had not been completed. Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd, for failing to provide a safe system of work, was found guilty of violating part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Mr Hawley said he felt that he had closure following the verdict which has left him relieved. He then stated –

“After I lost my job I tried to get another job but had panic attacks before my interviews.”

On the matter, HSE inspector Brian Price said that both incidents were avoidable and that there were other systems of work that could have been used instead of the dangerous systems that workers like Keith Hawley were forced to adopt. He then stated –

“The fact that this incident happened once was bad enough but for it to have happened a second time, to the same man, is deplorable. Balfour Beatty should have acted a lot quicker than they did. Mr Hawley has suffered unnecessarily because of their failings.”

A spokesman for Balfour Beatty stated:

“Although we no longer operate the Sandiacre manufacturing plant where this incident occurred, the company will ensure that these types of accidents are prevented in the future.We take the safety of all our employees very seriously and we were pleased that this was acknowledged in today’s judgement.”