Two firms fined £60,000 after two workers were seriously injured at Whitemoor railway depot

Whitemoor Rail Depot, March.

Whitemoor Rail Depot, March. - Credit: Archant

A RAIL firm and a construction company have been fined a total of £60,000 after two rail workers were left seriously injured following an accident at Whitemoor railway yard.

The workers were carrying out repairs to a machine designed to re-distribute ballast along the railway line, when they were injured.

The two men were using a hydraulic car jack to support an internal part of the ballast regulator when the jack, which should not have been in use, collapsed in the accident in 2009.

The machine crushed one of the employees, who worked for Swietelsky Construction, causing multiple facial fractures.

He continues to suffer the effects of brain injury.

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A Babcock rail employee received injuries to his left eye and face.

The fine comes following a Cambridge Crown Court case into the accident after the Office of Rail Regulation were called in to investigate.

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Cambridge Crown Court heard that Babcock Rail and Swieteslsky Construction had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for replacing wear plates inside the ballast regulator, a dangerous piece of equipment that can easily crush a worker.

It also found that no safety briefing or employee training for replacing the wear plates had taken place.

This led to their employees deciding for themselves how to carry out the work and exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

The two firms were charged under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

At a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court on October 5 Swietelsky Construction pleaded guilty.

In January Babcock Rail pleaded guilty.

Tom Wake, ORR’s principle inspector (south east) Railway Safety, said: “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.”

They were ordered to pay costs totalling £29,728.

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