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Rail firm's huge fine for worker's death
7:00am Tuesday 17th September 2013 in News
NETWORK Rail has been fined £125,000 over an accident that left one man dead and two others seriously injured.
Malcolm Slater, 64, died when he and two workmates fell 15ft on to the main line from Liverpool Street at Margaretting.
They were working on the overhead lines after a train brought the power cables down on June 10, 2008.
The accident took place when a metal basket they were in broke away from a hydraulic arm of a vehicle holding it up.
Network Rail admitted a charge of failing to ensure equipment used to lift employees and equipment was suitable when the firm appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Apart from the fine, the company were also told to pay £85,000 costs - a total of £210,000.
Judge David Turner QC told the court there was no question of cost cutting being involved in the accident.
But the judge did say Network Rail should have been aware of overloading problems with the baskets.
The court heard how the hoist been weakened by overloading.
The basket had been welded to a hydraulic arm of the hoist machine called a Unimog hoist.
But the weld failed and sent the men crashing to the track below.
Mr Slater died from head and spinal injuries 20 days after the accident, the court heard.
His two colleagues – Phil Miles and Daniel Wild – were later said to be office-bound as a result of their injuries.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said there was a 350kg (770lb) weight limit on the platform, but the day before the accident, it had been overloaded at times by up to 100kg (220lb).
And Mr Atkinson said it was not the first time overloading had been reported. The alarm on the hoist, which warned of any weight over ther limit had been muted, the court was told.
The firm's barrister, Prashant Popat QC(*all correct\*), said Network Rail expressed its "deep regret and remorse" over Mr Slater's death and the injuries to Mr Miles and Mr Wild.
The firm admitted it had failed to address overloading in normal use but it refuted claims its platforms had been used as a crane.
Lessons had been learned from what had happened, Mr Popat told the court.
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