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RAIL REGULATOR PROSECUTES CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

Fall through ceiling costs over £87,000 in fines and prosecution costs

Geoffrey Osborne Ltd and SSE Contracting Ltd have each been fined £24,0000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of around £20,000 each following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law which led to an electrician being injured after falling from height at Winchester Station, Hampshire, in 2010.

The fall occurred during the rewiring of an office within the station. An apprentice electrician fell over five metres through a ceiling onto a stairwell and suffered a dislocated elbow and a fractured foot. SSE Contracting were contracted by Geoffrey Osborne to complete electrical installation work as part of a refurbishment project.

Aldershot Magistrates heard that ORR investigators found neither company had adequately planned for work taking place at height within the station. A detailed assessment of safety risks was not carried out and basic protective structures such as scaffold guardrails around the edge of the roof bordering the suspended ceiling were not installed.

Parties failed to work together regarding “obvious safety risks”

Both companies pleaded guilty to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on 11 April 2013. Geoffrey Osborne Ltd wss fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £19,987.48. SSE Contracting Ltd was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,946.87.

David Keay, ORR’s Head of Inspection, said:

“Geoffrey Osborne Ltd and SSE Contracting Ltd failed to work together and protect workers from the obvious safety risks of working at height in Winchester Station.

This incident clearly demonstrates the need for all companies to take their responsibilities seriously, protecting workers with proper planning and assessment of risks, as well as installing basic safety measures such as scaffold guardrails. ORR will continue to press for further improvements in safety at rail construction sites, and if necessary, prosecute companies for criminal breaches in law.”

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