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Two workers die in falls from Network Rail bridge sites

Two construction workers have died within 10 hours of each other in falls from two of Scotland’s main railway bridges.

The first was Robert MacDonald, 52, from Harthill, was a Balfour Beatty sub-contractor working as a member of the Forth Bridge painting team. He fell 46m from a ladder on the north side of the bridge onto scaffolding below the railway tracks at around 9pm on Wednesday evening.

The second was David Rodger, 44, from Cowdenbeath in Fife, who worked for maintenance and construction company ThyssenKrupp Palmers. He died after falling onto a ledge while working on the Tay Bridge on Thursday morning. It is thought he may have fallen around 2m.

“It is with great sadness that we have received news of the deaths of two of our contractors.”

David Simpson, Network Rail

Network Rail, which was running both sites, has launched an investigation into the deaths. Inquiries are ongoing into Rodger’s death, and natural causes have not been ruled out.

Police, paramedics and life boat crews were called out to the scene of MacDonald’s accident on Wednesday night but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: “At 6.40am on Thursday, 28 January, BTP received a report of a man having fallen from a ladder onto a ledge under the Tay Rail Bridge.

“The man, who was a contractor, died at the scene. Police and paramedics attended the scene and HM Railway Inspectorate has been informed.”

Both men were working as contractors for Network Rail, stripping the two bridges of old paintwork and repainting them.

Tragic events

Network Rail Scotland route director David Simpson said: “It is with great sadness that we have received news of the deaths of two of our contractors who were working on the Forth and Tay Bridges.

“At 8.50pm last night, a member of the painting team working at the Forth Bridge fell from height and subsequently died from his injuries. At around 7am this morning, we received reports of a fall at the Tay Bridge. Sadly, this accident has also resulted in the death of one of our contractors.

“These tragic events have deeply shocked and saddened everyone linked to these projects. Such events have become extremely rare in the last decade as a result of rigorous safety regimes on both bridges.”

Office of Rail Regulation director of railway safety Ian Prosser said investigations will seek to determine exactly what happened and whether more should be done on the sites to prevent further deaths or injuries.

Readers' comments (1)

  • M Seshagiri Rao

    In India, we have had Girder bridges with open decks where walking over the sleepers with a gap of 600mm or so inbetween was a great hazard but gangways have now become standard many night patrolmen's lives have been saved. However, in Africa and in Bangladesh, I find open decks are still common routine. Any Bridgework is hazardous but the Administrations can do a lot to mitigate the hazards even though total elimination will never perhaps be possible.

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