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RAIL REGULATOR GETS TOUGH ON CONTRACTOR FAILINGS

Working unsafely near power lines both stopped and prosecuted 

Barhale Construction PLC has been fined a total of £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,899 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law on a construction site at River Gowy, near Chester in 2011.

On 2 July 2011 the company was undertaking work to demolish and rebuild the River Gowy Bridge. Heavy machinery was being operated beneath live overhead electrical power lines.  Inadequate precautions had been taken in areas of danger around the power lines and ORR served an immediate prohibition notice to stop all work until adequate safeguards were installed.

ORR focus will continue to include rail construction sites

Chester Magistrates heard that ORR investigators found that despite identifying the risks on site from overhead lines, the company failed to address the safety risks. Barhale Construction did not follow its own safety protocol for work under power lines, and safety equipment was not in use on this site. The company pleaded guilty to a breach of Electricity at Work Regulations for failing to plan and effectively manage against the risks of working near overhead power lines.

Darren Anderson, ORR’s Principal Inspector of Railways, said:

“Barhale Construction was well aware of the inherent risks for work near overhead power lines at the River Gowy site and failed to take adequate safety precautions. The company even had the appropriate safety equipment stored unused on the site. It was just good fortune that no injuries occurred prior to ORR’s intervention.

ORR inspectors will continue to focus on worker safety in the coming year, including those on rail construction sites. There are still too many occasions where sensible procedures designed to protect workers are ignored and the regulator will continue to press the industry, to defend the safety of those working on Britain’s rail network.”

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