DB Cargo fined £200,000 after worker left with ‘life changing injuries’ in Folkestone rail incident
The Office of Rail and Road has announced that DB Cargo has been fined GBP200,000 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act. This fine is for failing to protect the safety of its workers after an incident in 2018 at Dollands Moor freight yard. Terry Currie, who was then aged 43 and worked as a shunter, suffered life-changing injuries, including the amputation of his right arm, when a freight train collided with his vehicle on a level crossing on the 4th September 2018.
Following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road, the sentence was passed by District Judge Barron at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court. The investigation by the ORR found that DB Cargo failed to carry out assessments of the risks associated with people moving and trains within the yard, and a safe system was not implemented to protect workers. DB Cargo was fined GBP200,000 and had to pay GBP33,768.61 in costs.
Dollands Moor Freight Yard is operated by DB Cargo and is close to Folkestone West near the Channel Tunnel, and is used mostly by freight services to and from Europe. Ian Prosser CBE, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR said: “These were serious failings by DB Cargo to protect its workers and ensure a safe practice of freight train movements. “There were clear and obvious risks of serious injury due to the lack of appropriate ways of working.
Today’s sentence shows how important it is that operators have appropriate practices to ensure worker safety. “Following the accident, DB Cargo has taken action to mitigate risks but had it properly assessed the risk of a collision beforehand, Mr Currie need not have suffered life changing injury.” In his remarks, Judge Barron said “there was an obvious risk of a collision between people and trains within the yard, which had been foreseen as long ago as 1991 when the yard was designed, before it became operational in 1994.
At that time, between 8 and 11 track workers or shunters were killed on the railway each year.” “Until 2010, safety documentation included a requirement that buggies crossing the sidings should use one of the two subways that were provided at each end of the yard to allow staff access to individual sidings without crossing any tracks.” “By 2012, this requirement was no longer included.
By 2014, only one of the two subways remained open, but lighting in this subway had failed.
Use of this subway was not enforced, so most workers chose to drive across the level crossings instead.
There were no barriers, signs or written instructions indicating that vehicles were not allowed to use the level crossings unless signals were being used to stop any approaching trains.”
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