Court hands down £1.4m fine for rail plant crushing incident


The Superboss ballast distributor that was involved in the incident

An investigation by the Office of Rail & Road, the industry regulator, determined that Network Rail’s failings led to  that a man being crushed between the conveyor of a 25-tonne Superboss ballast distributor and a Kubota people carrier.

The worker suffered life-changing injuries to his legs and spine. He lost 12cm of bone in his left leg and 4cm in his right leg. The tendons and nerves of his right leg were also irreparably damaged, causing permanent disability.

A second worker suffered minor injuries to his wrist and shoulder from the collision.

The incident happened on 19th September 2018 on a stretch of track between Crewe and Chester.

ORR’s investigation led to it prosecuting Network Rail under the Health Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Network Rail was fined after pleading guilty at Chester Magistrates Court this week (11th May 2022).

ORR found failings in Network Rail’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.

District Judge Sanders, on sentencing Network Rail, said that the accident was a result of “many layers of failure” within Network Rail. Judge Sanders said there was a lack of clarity in planning and as to what was going on, insufficiently robust supervision, and operating failures by Network Rail.

ORR’s HM chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: “The injuries sustained to a Network Rail employee on 19th 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.”

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