A railway engineering company has been fined Â£ 600,000 after a specialist vehicle overturned during construction at Market Harborough station.
Amey Rail Ltd has admitted breaking essential health and safety laws after the excavator lift vehicle overturned while staff were carrying out an improvement program at the busy main station.
The shocked taxi driver was trapped and had to be dragged by his co-workers after slipping his way through the hard glass windshield to free the worker.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) brought proceedings in Leicester District Court under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1974 etc.
The railway regulator acted for failing to ensure that lifting operations involving lifting equipment were properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner.
The incident occurred in the early hours of October 21, 2018, when a hi-rail excavator vehicle overturned during a dangerous lift.
The driver of the vehicle had to be removed from the cab.
Several other railway workers were nearby at the time of the accident, but luckily no one was seriously injured, the court heard.
Investigators found that there had been a late change in the equipment used on the night of the accident which had “inadequate lifting capacity for the work planned.”
âTo overcome this, it was determined that the length of the runway to be lifted should be reduced from 30 to 20 feet.
“This critical change was not managed or communicated properly and resulted in the track panels being cut to the original 30-foot length – exceeding the working capacity of the excavators,” ORR said.
âWhen the lift began, safety systems on board the excavators showed that the weight lifted was more than what the excavators could safely support.
“ORR discovered in its investigation that these warnings had been ignored and that the security systems had been disabled to allow work to continue.”
The rail regulator also found that the radio communication system between the operators and the lifting supervisor had developed a fault.
“Although replacement equipment is available on site, work continued with inadequate communication equipment,” ORR said.
âThese failures led to one of the two excavators being overloaded beyond its capacity and tipping onto its side, trapping a worker in the cab, when lifting in tandem a panel of tracks the length of which was was later established at 39 feet.
âSeveral members of the lift crew and others nearby went through the tempered glass windshield to pull a worker out of the cab. “
Amey was also ordered to pay Â£ 15,119.49 for costs and a victim fine surcharge of Â£ 170.
Ian Prosser, ORR Chief Inspector of Railways, later said: âThe risks of non-compliance with lifting regulations are well known throughout the industry and clearly foreseeable.
“In this case, basic mistakes were made and it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured.”
He added: âNone of these failures to follow well-established procedures, nor the isolation of safety systems on the excavators, were identified despite the presence of two senior managers on site overnight to manage the work.
“This meant that Amey had not taken steps to adequately manage the risks presented when lifting loads of the size and weight in tandem of those undertaken on October 21, 2018.”
A spokesperson for Amey said after the case: ‘We can confirm at a hearing in Leicester Magistrates’ Court on Friday 12 November 2021, Amey Rail Ltd (ARL), pleaded guilty to a violation of regulation 8 (1) of lifting operations and lifting equipment. Regulations 1998.
âThis was linked to an incident in October 2018 on a track near Market Harborough station.
Fortunately, the incident did not cause any serious injuries.
âThe Court recognized that given the hazardous environment in which ARL operates, it takes health and safety seriously and has a good track record, but on this occasion it has failed to meet its own high standards. “
They added: âWe regret that this incident has taken place.
âThe health, safety and well-being of our employees, supply chain partners and the public is our top priority.
âWe are committed to always applying safe work practices and have reviewed our operating procedures following this incident. “