Overload alarm ‘off’ despite platform weight limit exceeded regularly
Network Rail has been fined £125,000 and ordered to pay costs of £85,000 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law identified following the death of Malcolm Slater, a Network Rail track maintenance worker, in June 2008.
Three track maintenance workers were repairing damaged overhead lines in Essex and working at 5m up on a mobile elevated platform attached to a vehicle. The platform became detached and fell to the ground. All three men sustained injuries and Malcolm Slater died on 1 July 2008.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Network Rail to provide suitable work equipment and to properly plan the repair work. Staff were not trained on working within the platform and did not identify that the overload alarm had been switched off despite evidence showing the platform weight limit of 350kg had been significantly exceeded on a regular basis.
Too many occasions where failings leading to a catastrophic event
Network Rail pleaded guilty to charges brought in connection with the incident at Chelmsford Crown Court on 30 August 2013.
Ian Prosser, ORR’s Director of Railway Safety, said:
“Network Rail must do all it can to ensure the safety of those working on our railways. On this occasion, unacceptable failings by the company were identified following the death of Malcolm Slater, and my thoughts are with his family and friends.
ORR’s investigation found that Network Rail had not properly planned work to repair overhead lines near Margaretting in Essex. The company did not provide relevant training or ensure appropriate equipment was being used for lifting heavy materials. These failings were identified after the tragic death of Mr Slater, and serious injury of two others also undertaking the work.
While Network Rail has significantly increased its focus on worker safety, there remain too many occasions where a lack of appropriate training, poor management or inadequate planning leads to a catastrophic event. ORR inspectors are closely monitoring how Network Rail manages worker safety and will always step in or take action if failings are found.”