Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 7, 2014

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BAM Nuttall: heavy fine after worker is crushed

BAM Nuttall Ltd has pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law, following an incident in which a steel and concrete beam toppled off a railway wagon crushing a worker. The worker suffered severe injuries and had to have one leg amputated.

Southwark Crown Court heard on 30 September that the incident occurred during the replacement of a South London railway bridge in December 2010.

BAM Nuttall was the principal contractor employed by Network Rail to demolish and replace Pouparts Bridge, located between Clapham Junction and Battersea Park in South London. The company had sub-contracted the lifting elements of the work to Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd. On 27 December 2010, Balfour Beatty construction workers were preparing to lift a steel and concrete ‘L’ shaped beam, weighing approximately six tonnes, by crane from a railway wagon into its new position on the bridge. The beam toppled over as it was being unsecured from the wagon, crushing the legs of a worker just above the ankle on the floor of the rail wagon.

An Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) investigation found that BAM Nuttall had failed to assess the risks associated with loading and unloading the beams, and had not planned the activity appropriately. The company also did not provide information about the potential instability of the concrete beam to the workers carrying out the loading and unloading activities.

BAM Nuttall was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay costs of £42,700.

Tom Wake, ORR’s principal inspector of railways – South East, said: “BAM Nuttall has a duty of care to protect its employees and sub-contractors from being harmed while working on their construction sites. In December 2010, the company failed to adequately plan the loading and securing of a steel and concrete beam for a bridge, weighing over six tonnes, on a railway wagon. This failing led to one of the beams toppling over, trapping a construction worker’s legs just above the ankle when he was preparing it for lifting. As a result he suffered severe, life-changing injuries, which led to one leg being amputated.

“ORR’s investigation found that BAM Nuttall had not adequately planned, managed or monitored the loading, securing and unloading of these large and heavy beams. The company also failed to communicate the potential dangers to construction workers responsible for handling the beams. These serious failings are not acceptable conduct from a company in charge of high-risk construction sites across Britain’s railways.

“The safety of workers at rail construction sites is a top priority for the regulator. ORR inspectors are out on the railway network, monitoring rail and construction companies such as BAM Nuttall, to ensure safety is not compromised.”

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