Our ref: HSR/2/30
Head Office Circular: NP/69/23
4th April 2023
To: The Secretary
ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES
BEARSDEN FATALITY TRIAL OUTCOME
At around 09:30 on 5th June 2018 a 20-year-old member of a telecoms installation team working for a principal contractor (Linbrooke Services Limited) died in a fall from height.
The accident occurred at Bearsden Station, Glasgow during work to renew the public address
The worker in question was fatally injured when he fell from a step ladder during a cable pulling operation. The cable drum had been deployed using a piece of metal conduit, which was left in the centre of the drum when the drum was on its side. The worker struck the conduit and died from his injuries.
I have been informed by the Office of Rail and Road of the outcome of the trial of Linbrooke Services Limited resulting from the fatal accident at Bearsden station in June 2018.
The trial started on Monday 13th March 2023 at Dumbarton Sheriff Court after the company pleaded not guilty to three charges at the pleading diet in July 2021.
The charges related to:
• Failure to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the task being undertaken by the deceased and his colleagues
• Failure to take effective measures to prevent a fall from height, and
• Failure to provide suitable work equipment.
On Thursday 30th March, the jury returned majority guilty verdicts on all three charges.
The possibility of an appeal remains, and sentencing is scheduled to take place on 10th May.
Since the fatality in 2018, RMT has worked with Network Rail to ensure that no such incidents reoccur going forward.
Network Rail’s Level 3 formal investigation’s recommendations are intended:
- To prohibit the use of ladders and stepladders unless there is a task and location specific risk assessment that specifically proves that there is no other practicable means of access and details the control measures and competence requirements for those using them
- To provide guidance on, and if necessary mandate, the equipment available to assist with manual handling activities in relation to cable drums
- To amend the Lifesaving Rule to make it clearer that it applies to all instances of working at height and not only at heights and locations where safety harnesses are appropriate.
- To ensure that risks and controls around tasks undertaken on the railway and associated construction activities are visible at all levels of the organisation
- To embed better appreciation and understanding of risk amongst all those who work on and around Network Rail infrastructure.
Let me take this opportunity to remind members of the importance of safety awareness when using step-ladders. Please view the HSE guidance at https://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/ladders/index.htm
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.