The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued its highest value fine for 2021 to rail operator W.H. Malcom Ltd. following a boy’s death. The company must pay £6.5m after it was found guilty of negligence after an 11-year-old boy was fatally electrocuted in 2017. The boy managed to get into the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal to retrieve a football and managed to climb on top of a wagon.
He received a fatal electric shock from the overhead line and was pronounced dead at the scene. The company was charged with two offences. The first under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the second under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
The company denied the charges but was found guilty. The inquest found that the risk of unauthorised access hadn’t been assessed and proper measures weren’t put in place to prevent access to the site. The company had been repeatedly warned about trespassing issues. Higher and stronger fencing was advised but senior team members believed it was too expensive.
The regulator commented: “It is only right that WH Malcolm are held to account for failing to prevent unauthorised access and for failing to manage the risks in what should have been an entirely avoidable tragedy.”
The judge condemned the company, saying: “In contesting this trial the defendant failed to take responsibility for a serious and obvious failing to allow public access to what is and was a dangerous environment.” The judge added that it was “inexplicable” that the site’s boundary wasn’t secured.
In addition to being fined £6.5 million, the company was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £241,463. The judge said: “This fine must bring home to directors and board members the need to comply with health and safety legislation.”
What do we say?
This is a warning to all companies who have high-risk sites and looking at the risks, security and potential damage to life. It also shows how a company can be fined and also pay full prosecution costs.
Consider the following:
- Is there a risk assessment in place that covers hazards of the workplace?
- Have security measures been taken into consideration and assessed?
- Is the site being checked at night and signed off as secure?
- Employers and Owners should consider looking at HSE guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/sragtech/techmeassecurity.htm