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December 21, 2010

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London Underground failed to rectify faulty step

It took London Underground several months to repair a step at the entrance to a tube station despite a spate of incidents in which members of the public sustained injuries in falls, a court has heard.

London Underground was sentenced on 17 December following a number of incidents between May and October 2009, in which a total of 13 members of the public were injured falling on an uneven step at Cannon Street tube station in Central London.

At least one passenger suffered life-changing injuries, while some were knocked unconscious. Others sustained very serious injuries, including a broken wrist, a broken nose, and cuts to the head.

Since 2008, construction work taking place at the station has meant that the staircase connecting Cannon Street mainline station to the adjacent underground station has been closed. Access to the underground station during this period has been via the mainline station’s main entrance, which initially consisted of a shallow step of variable height up from the pavement, and a staircase.

The falls occurred as a result of individuals tripping over the step on the way into the station, and falling down a flight of stairs in front of the step.

The first incident took place on 13 May 2009, when a passenger tripped up the step and hit his head on the handrail, suffering a bleeding head and losing consciousness for a few seconds. London Underground took no action, and subsequent incidents followed.

In July that year, the station manager at Cannon Street contacted London Underground to raise his concerns but, despite the rail operator carrying out an inspection of the station entrance, it concluded there was no greater risk of falls and trips at the station than elsewhere on its network.

The final incident occurred on 28 October 2009, when a passenger suffered bruising and grazing after falling. A week later, on 4 November, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) issued London Underground an Improvement Notice ordering the situation to be rectified within three weeks. A ramp was installed on 21 November 2009.

Commenting on the case, Caroline Wake, deputy chief inspector of railways at the ORR, said: “Health and safety at Britain’s stations is just as important as health and safety on the tracks.

“In this case, our investigation found that London Underground failed to take action to improve safety at Cannon Street station despite being aware of a considerable safety risk. Its failure to act left 13 passengers suffering injuries – many of which were serious; one of which was life-changing. This is simply unacceptable.”

City of London magistrates fined London Underground £7000 and ordered it to pay costs of £6000, after it admitted a contravention of s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of persons not in its employment.

A Transport for London spokesperson said: “This was an unusual set of circumstances and we apologise to the customers that were injured. London Underground has launched an investigation to look at the management of these incidents at Cannon Street. The investigation should be completed by end of January 2011.

“London Underground has an excellent and improving health and safety record, which was recognised in the ORR’s health and safety report published in July this year.”

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13 years ago

How can you possibly have an excellent safety record when you’ve injued 13 people and taken 6 months to rectify this situation!! There is nothing unusual about a step which causes serious injury to people. What an absoloute disgrace, I would question not only the competence of the safety professionals employed by LU but also the auditors who have published the July report!!!!