BAM Nuttall fined £140,000 for crushing construction worker under six tonne concrete and steel beam

30 September 2014

BAM Nuttall Ltd has been fined £140,000 and ordered to pay costs of £42,700 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety law in December 2010, during the replacement of a South London railway bridge, and causing a construction worker to suffer life changing injuries.

BAM Nuttall was the principal contractor employed by Network Rail to demolish and replace Pouparts Bridge, located between Clapham Junction and Battersea Park in South London. The company had sub-contracted the lifting elements of the work to Balfour Beatty Rail Ltd. On 27 December 2010, Balfour Beatty construction workers were preparing to lift a steel and concrete 'L' shaped beam, weighing approximately six tonnes, by crane from a railway wagon into its new position on the bridge. The beam toppled over as it was being unsecured from the wagon, crushing the legs of a worker just above the ankle on the floor of the rail wagon. He suffered severe injuries which led to one leg being amputated.

Today's sentencing at Southwark Crown Court follows an extensive ORR investigation which found BAM Nuttall had failed to assess the risks associated with loading and unloading the beams, and had not planned the activity appropriately. The company also did not provide information about the potential instability of the concrete beam to the workers carrying out the loading and unloading activities.

Tom Wake, ORR's principal inspector of railways – South East said:

BAM Nuttall has a duty of care to protect its employees and sub-contractors from being harmed while working on their construction sites. In December 2010, the company failed to adequately plan the loading and securing of a steel and concrete beam for a bridge, weighing over six tonnes, on a railway wagon. This failing led to one of the beams toppling over, trapping a construction worker's legs just above the ankle when he was preparing it for lifting. As a result he suffered severe, life changing injuries, which led to one leg being amputated.
ORR's investigation found that BAM Nuttall had not adequately planned, managed or monitored the loading, securing and unloading of these large and heavy beams. The company also failed to communicate the potential dangers to construction workers responsible for handling the beams. These serious failings are not acceptable conduct from a company in charge of high risk construction sites across Britain's railways.
The safety of workers at rail construction sites is a top priority for the regulator. ORR inspectors are out on the railway network, monitoring rail and construction companies such as BAM Nuttall, to ensure safety is not compromised.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways. 
  2. Follow the Office of Rail Regulation on Twitter @railregulation
  3. The regulator has approved dedicated funding for the next five years to improve the safety and performance of Britain's railways. More than £250m has been allocated for better track worker protection and £100m made available to close level crossings. 
  4. ORR prosecuted BAM Nuttall Ltd for an offence which breached Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This offence results from the company's failure to protect persons not in their employment being exposed to risks to their health and safety. 
  5. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) recently published annual statistical data showing trends in rail safety in Great Britain from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.The data shows that:
    • The number of workforce injuries on the mainline network increased by 206 (3.5%). Workforce injuries on the London Underground network rose by 302 (8.3%) and other networks by 34 (16.9%).
    • There were 345 fatalities on the mainline network, London Underground and other networks such as tramways and heritage railways, an increase of 19 compared with 2012-13. Of these fatalities, 304 were recorded as suicide. 
    • The number of passenger injuries on the mainline, London Underground and other networks rose to 11,047, an increase of 0.9% compared with the previous year. Slips, trips and falls – often a result of congestion or bad weather – accounted for the highest proportion of injuries on both the mainline network and London Underground. This category has accounted for the highest proportion of passenger injuries in every year of the time series.

      To read the full annual safety key statistics report visit: https://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/statistical-releases
  6. ORR's annual health and safety report, published in July 2014, is available to read at: https://orr.gov.uk/what-and-how-we-regulate/health-and-safety/monitoring-and-reporting/health-and-safety-annual-report-2014.