Network Rail and VolkerRail have together been fined almost £2 million for health and safety breaches that the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) believes could have been avoided.
NR has been ordered to pay a £1.4 million fine after a worker was left permanently injured when he was crushed between heavy track machinery.
The successful prosecution was brought by the ORR following an incident during work on a 19-mile stretch of track between Crewe and Chester on September 19 2018.
Chester Magistrates Court heard on May 11 that failings in procedures led to the unnamed man becoming trapped between the conveyor of a 25-tonne ‘Superboss’ ballast distributor and Kubota people carrier. He suffered life-changing injuries to his legs and spine and is now permanently disabled. A second worker was slightly hurt.
ORR found serious failings in how the engineering possession was planned and managed, poor communication at all levels, and a lack of information, instructions and training to safety-critical staff.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said after the case: “The injuries sustained to a Network Rail employee were horrendous, and the incident was caused by totally inadequate supervision of the task at all levels. This incident could easily have been avoided.”
Meanwhile, construction company VolkerRail was fined £550,000 at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, for allowing a six-foot trench that was not reinforced to collapse on a worker inside it.
ORR brought the prosecution for an incident that took place outside Stafford station on July 6 2014. The worker had to put into an induced coma for surgery after breaking several bones and has still not fully recovered.