Rail operator fined after volunteer’s fall

Gwili Railway Company Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 in a prosecution brought by industry regulator the Office of Rail & Road (ORR).

On 16th June 2022, at the company’s Llwyfan Cerrig yard in south Wales, a volunteer slipped and fell from the roof of a Mark 1 coach to the ground while trying to pull tent fabric over a frame erected over two carriages. The volunteer suffered a broken right leg, which required an operation and several days’ stay in hospital.

A prohibition notice was served by an ORR inspector on 28th June 2022 following the incident.

ORR’s investigation found that there was a lack of planning, management and supervision of the specific task, that no measures had been put in place to protect against a fall from the carriage roof and that none of the volunteers had competence in working at height. ORR also said that a ladder used by the volunteer to climb onto the carriage roof was in poor condition and not fit for use.

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The work activity was carried out over several days and, as a consequence, the risk of falling from height was present for a sustained period. Several volunteers and one employee of the company were exposed to this risk.

HM chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: “Working at height accidents are too frequent in the heritage sector and Gwili Railway Company Ltd is fortunate its inadequate measures did not result in more serious injury.

“We strongly encourage each company to ensure that work activities involving work at height are properly planned to ensure the risk of harm is minimised.”

Gwili Railway Company Ltd has been issued a fine of £18,000 after being given a one-third reduction for an early guilty plea and a further reduction for other mitigating factors. Tit was also ordered to pay ORR’s full costs of £18,557.32.

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