‘Corner-cutting’ Southeastern to pay £2.5m after cleaner electrocuted on live rail
Thursday 23rd November 2017
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The two companies were sentenced on 17 November at Guildford Crown Court.
The court was told that Wetton Cleaning Services employee Roger Lower, 46, was working a night shift at the West Marina Depot in St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings.
He had been washing the exterior of a train before his colleagues found him lying on the live rail on 24 May 2014. Emergency services were called but they were unable to save his life.
The prosecution was brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Its inspectors found that four protection boards designed to keep workers away from the live rail had been leant up against buffers and were not in use.
The ORR said it found Southeastern, which operates train services in south east London, Kent and parts of East Sussex, and Wettons both had a "culture of cutting corners", including inadequate training and supervision, no safe system of work and a reliance on safety paperwork at the depot.
Southeastern's owner, London and South Eastern Railways (LSER), ran the depot, which it leased from Network Rail for washing trains. LSER had subcontracted Wettons for this purpose.
LSER was found guilty of breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, while Wettons was prosecuted under s 2(1) of the same act. They were fined £2.5m and £1.1m respectively and both ordered to pay costs of £162,000 each.
Howdens Joinery was prosecuted at Carlisle Crown Court after it pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It must also pay costs of almost £34,000. The court was told that Richard Brown had been delivering kitchen worktops to the company’s premises at Clay Flatts industrial estate in Workington when the accident happened in November 2014.A forklift truck was being used to unload two pallets from the heavy goods vehicle when it overbalanced. It fell on Brown and he died at the scene.
M&W Tarmacadam Contractors employee Darren Mundell was standing on the bonnet of a paver to cut overhanging branches at the Arkleton Estate in Langholm on 7 November 2016. He lost his balance and fell into a tar hopper, Dumfries Sheriff Court was told.Mundell sustained a spinal fracture and a damaged spinal cord which caused permanent paralysis from the waist down.The Health and Safety Executive said the bonnet was not a safe place to work.
The accident happened on 29 January 2013 because the company had not identified the risks associated with the road repair work and moving traffic, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said. As a result the appropriate control measures, including temporary speed limits, signage and road closures, had not been implemented. SWH pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £17,925 costs at Exeter Crown Court on Friday (1 December).
On 19 October 2015 Samuel Evans, managing director of S. Evans and Sons, was lifting steel girders using a rotator shear attached to an excavator – plant typically used to cut up materials during demolition, Liverpool Crown Court was told. Employee David Whitfield, 63, was assisting Evans with the job. He walked underneath a suspended girder to position some wooden blocks well it fell on him.
The strongest came from IOSH chief executive Bev Messinger who launched the conference with an overview of progress on the WORK 2022 strategy that aims to improve safety and health standards worldwide by collaboration and influence. As an aside to an overview of IOSH’s aims for its WORK 2022 strategy which aims to help cut the estimated work-related death toll of 2.78 million a year by collaborating with and influencing bodies worldwide, Messinger told delegates her brother-in-law had been killed in a workplace accident on 12 October.
Daniel Tennant did not hold a valid medical certificate, Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told. Instead he falsified a document, which he gave to a diving company in 2016 in order to work as a commercial diver. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Tennant’s fitness to dive certificate “closely resembled” a genuine one “but it had been altered to display a false expiry date”.