Amey fined £600k after excavator overturns on rail job

Amey has been fined £600,000 after a road-rail excavator vehicle overturned during lifting work rebuilding Market Harborough station in Leicestershire.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court  heard that the operator had to be pulled from the cab but no one was seriously injured during the incident in the early hours of 21 October 2018.

An Office of Road and Rail investigation found there was a late change in the equipment being used on the night of the accident, which had inadequate lifting capacity for the planned works.

To compensate the length of the track to be lifted would need to be reduced from 30 to 20 feet.

But this critical change was not managed or communicated correctly and resulted in the track panels being cut to the original length of 30 feet – exceeding the capacity for the pair of replacement excavators.

When lifting started, the on-board safety systems showed that the excavators were overloaded. ORR found in its investigation that these warnings were ignored, and the safety systems were disabled to enable the work to continue.

ORR also found that radio-based communication system between the operators and the lifting supervisor developed a defect. Despite replacement equipment being available on site, work continued with the inadequate communications equipment.

These failures led to one of the two excavators becoming overloaded beyond its capacity and toppling onto its side, trapping a worker in the cab, when undertaking a tandem lift of a track panel later established to be 39ft long.

Several members of the lifting team and others in the nearby vicinity  kicked through the toughened glass windscreen to drag a worker clear of the cab.

ORR’s HM Chief Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser CBE, said: “The risks of failing to comply with the lifting regulations are well known throughout the industry and clearly foreseeable. In this case basic errors were made and it is by sheer luck that no one was seriously hurt.

“None of these failures to follow well established procedures, nor the isolation of safety systems on the excavators, were identified despite the presence of two senior members of staff on site during the night to manage the work.

“This meant Amey failed to take measures in order to adequately manage the risks presented when tandem lifting loads of the size and weight of those undertaken on 21 October 2018.”

Amey Rail Limited pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £600,000 and was also ordered to pay full costs of £15,119.49 and a victim surcharge of £170.