NR fined £1.4m after employee suffers life-changing injuries

A file image of a Superboss ballast distributor.

Network Rail has been fined £1.4 million for a health and safety breach after a worker was crushed between the conveyor of a 25-tonne ‘Superboss’ ballast distributor and people carrier.

The incident happened on 19 September 2018 between Crewe and Chester. The worker suffered what the ORR describes as ‘catastrophic and life-changing injuries’ to his legs and spine. He lost 12cm of bbone on his left leg and 4cm on his right leg. The tendons and nerves of his right leg were also irreparably damaged, causing permanent disability. Another worker suffered minor injuries to his wrist and shoulder from the collision.

ORR’s investigation found failings in NR’s management of the worksite including poor planning, failure to provide adequate supervision of the works, poor communication at all levels and failure to provide adequate information, instructions and training to safety-critical staff.

The regulator prosecuted NR under the Health Safety at Work etc Act 1974. NR was fined after pleading guilty at Chester Magistrates Court on 11 May.

On sentencing NR, District Judge Sanders said the accident was as a result of many layers of failure within NR. The Judge added that there as a failure in the planning with a lack of clarity as to what was going on, failure in the supervision which was insufficiently robust, and there were operating failures by NR.

HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said: ‘The injuries sustained to a Network Rail employee on 19 September 2018 were horrendous and have had a devastating impact on him and his family, to whom we offer our heartfelt sympathies.

‘The incident was caused by totally inadequate supervision of the task at all levels.

‘Nobody was making sure that those under their supervision had been following safe working practices, which led to this incident that could easily have been avoided.’