The incident happened during work to replace Pouparts Bridge between Clapham Junction and Battersea Park in South London.
BAM Nuttall, the principal contractor employed by Network Rail to demolish and replace the bridge, had subcontracted the lifting elements to Balfour Beatty Rail.
On 27 December 2010, Balfour Beatty staff were preparing to lift a steel and concrete “L” shaped beam, which weighed about six tonnes, by crane from a railway wagon into its new position on the bridge.
Southwark Crown Court was told that the beam toppled over as it was being unsecured from the wagon, crushing the legs of a worker just above the ankle. The extent of his injuries meant one of his legs later had to be amputated.
An investigation by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) found BAM Nuttall had not assessed the risks associated with loading and unloading the beams, and had not properly planned, managed or monitored the securing and unloading of the large, heavy beams. The company also failed to communicate the potential dangers to the 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,” said Tom Wake, ORR’s principal inspector for the South East.
BAM Nuttall was fined £140,000 with costs of £42,700 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was clear that the procedure had not been properly risk assessed.
Shires Law, a firm of accident at work solicitors deal with many accidents such as this and advise anybody injured through no fault of their own to contact solicitors to investigate whether they might be entitled to compensation.
Joanne du Plessis, partner at Shires Law states: ” Serious accidents can have catastrophic consequences for a person who often faces a lengthy period of recuperation and will loose income as a result. It is important that the seriously injured consult with solicitors who specialize in this area so that their case can be moved forwards speedily and where necessary an interim payment can be sought to assist them during this period.”