London Underground and Balfour Beatty Rail have been fined total of £433,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries to his lower body.
London Underground and Balfour Beatty Rail were fined £100,000 and £333,000 respectively as well as £30,000 in costs each, after pleading guilty to breaking health and safety laws in a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
The ORR said in the early hours of 4 June 2016, Adrian Rascarache, 36, was struck by a road rail vehicle (RRV), a machine that is generally used for lifting, digging or levelling track. As a result, his lower body was crushed between the RRV and the platform edge of Whitechapel station, resulting in serious injuries to his pelvis.
The ORR said the machine involved was fitted with a bucket at the time of the incident which restricted the driver’s view and that Rascarache was not directing the driver at the time of the incident.
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that ORR’s investigation found that despite London Underground and Balfour Beatty being aware of the risks posed by allowing workers to guide RRVs by walking along the track in front of the machine, there was no safe system of work put in place that night to address the risk.
It said that in fact, a decision had been taken not to adopt a procedure called ‘send and receive’, which eliminated the need for people to walk between machines, as it was considered a slower method of working.
ORR also found that on the night of Rascarache’s injury, workers were not given the required safety briefings before starting their shift, as the signing-in procedure had been deliberately by-passed.
Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said: “Today’s sentences send a clear message that the health and safety of workers must not be compromised. In this instance, corners were cut as a response to perceived time pressure. This is unacceptable and resulted in the terrible injuries suffered by Mr Rascarache.
“The safety of workers is an absolute priority for the ORR and we will take appropriate action against organisations or individuals when failings are found.”
In response, London Underground director of renewals and enhancements Caroline Sheridan said: “We offer our sincere apologies to Mr Rascarache and we deeply regret the serious injuries he sustained.
“TfL staff and contractors undertake some incredibly complex work across our network every day and their safety is always paramount. We take any incident on our network extremely seriously and we continue to work with all our contractors to ensure that our high standards of safety are maintained so that such a terrible incident does not happen again.”
A Balfour Beatty spokesperson added: “The safety of our workforce and the public is always our primary concern. Balfour Beatty has since taken appropriate corrective action to take the lessons learnt from this incident in 2016 and shared them across our business.”