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Inadequate safe system of work leads to

HSE InfoLine : 15 March, 2006  (Company News)
West Coast Traincare was yesterday fined
West Coast Traincare was yesterday fined 13,000 following a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive after a train maintenance worker's hand was run over by a train. HSE's investigation found that there was an inadequate system in place for safely carrying out the work.

Following the conclusion of yesterday's hearing, Steve Turner, HSE's investigating inspector commented: 'The sad fact is that there are very simple steps that, if employed, could have prevented this incident. The staff were not adequately protected and there was a lack of communication between the various work groups.'

The incident occurred on 26 October 2004 when 43-year-old Brian Birch, employed on maintenance activities by West Coast Traincare, was replacing brake pads underneath a set of carriages at the depot in Oxley, Wolverhampton. Two colleagues were also working on the train conducting brake tests on the attached locomotive. During the course of the testing, one of them released the train's braking system causing it to move forward. One of the carriage wheels rolled over Mr Birch's right hand causing injuries resulting in the amputation of all his fingers and two knuckles.

Steve Turner continued: 'The investigation found that the vehicle maintenance instruction for this type of work was inadequate leading to a local procedure being developed. 'Wheel scotches', wooden blocks to prevent the train moving, should have been used, two in each direction of travel, at either end of the train. Notice boards warning that the train should not be moved, on alternate sides of each end of the train also need to be in place. Wheel scotches and notice boards were only partially used on the train involved in this incident.

'Formal instructions for the various working parties to communicate with each other, those under the train and those on the locomotive, would have also helped prevent the isolated working, evident in the run up to this incident.'

Westcoast Traincare Ltd of Newbold Road, Rugby, Warwickshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court in that it did not ensure the safety of persons in its employment or operate under a safe system of work for staff undertaking maintenance activities on 26 October 2004. The company was fined 13,000 with costs of 3,500.
14 March 2006

Henderson General Services Ltd, a construction company based in Putney, London, was fined 18,000 and ordered to pay costs of 4,296, at the Old Bailey on Monday 13 March 2006. The prosecution, brought by the Health and Safety Executive, followed its investigation into the death of Mr James Grimes who died when he fell from a ladderwhile he attempted to access a scaffold.

Speaking after the case, HSE investigating inspector Simon Hester, said: 'This death could easily have been avoided if the company had ensured safe ladder access to the scaffold. A simple and cheap action, such as installing a gantry for example, would have prevented the death of Mr Grimes and the grief suffered by his family and friends. Any contractor or site foreman reading about this case should be sure to check that proper ladder access is in place for the scaffold on their site.'

Mr Grimes, a 63 year old from Southfields near Wimbledon, was employed to paint the exterior of a building in Queens Gate Terrace, London, SW15, when he fell 4.25 meters. He had been attempting to climb over a balcony railing from his ladder on the construction site in Queens Gate Terrace, London, SW15.

Henderson General Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

'We're not saying this work is no-risk - it still needs to be carried out by trained workers using appropriate controls. Licensing is an additional check on high-risk work and should reflect changing knowledge about risks to remain credible.'
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