£1.2million fine for Network Rail after death

Network Rail has been fined £1.2million following the death of a grandad who was crushed while carrying out maintenance work.

Long-serving employee Kevin Mauger was crushed by a railway track weighing six tons while working at a rail depot in Hampshire.

The 53-year-old from Eastleigh, had five children and eight grandchildren. His wife Rachael says her husband was the core of their family and that his death has left ‘a hole that can never be filled’.

He had been carrying out maintenance on Network Rail’s rail production line at the Long Welded Rail Depot off Dutton Lane in Eastleigh on 30 November 2020.

As he was cleaning the inside of a butt-welding machine – a machine that welds two sections of rail tracks together. The machine’s conveyor system was on the wrong setting and that meant a section of rail track entered the machine while Kevin was inside. He was crushed and died at the scene.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Network Rail failed to ensure there was a safe system of work while carrying out maintenance on its rail production line. Network Rail also failed to provide an adequate risk assessment for this type of maintenance.

HSE guidance can be found at: Human factors/ergonomics – Permit to work systems (hse.gov.uk).

Kevin’s wife, Rachael, said: “Kevin died on my dad’s birthday and my birthday is the day after, which was also the day our son had his first child, our youngest grandson. Kevin never got to meet him. This has completely devastated our son.

“Our family have been terribly affected by Kevin’s death. One of our daughters feels she cannot give her own children the Christmas me and Kevin gave her as a child as she now finds Christmas really difficult without her dad. Our eldest daughter has had issues with her car but cannot bear to sell it as her dad helped her buy it.

“Our youngest daughter is devastated her dad will not be there to give her away when she gets married. My second-eldest daughter is still living with me as she feels she cannot leave me. She also no longer enjoys going to watch football as this was something she and her dad did together. Kevin’s passing has had a big impact on all our grandchildren too, who miss spending time with their grandad so much.

“Kevin was the core of our family, he was the one everyone turned to for help. His death has left a hole that can never be filled.”

Network Rail Infrastructure Limited, of Waterloo, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1.2million and ordered to pay £11,410 in costs at West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court in a written judgement given on 8 August 2023.

HSE inspector Amanda Huff said: “This tragic accident was wholly avoidable, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work.

“There were no written isolation procedures in place when they were working on this highly dangerous piece of machinery and the risk assessment for carrying out maintenance was inadequate – it failed to identify suitable and sufficient control measures.

“This accident could have been avoided if there had been robust isolation procedures in place but tragically this was not the case.”

This case was supported by Sam Wells and Kirsty Crapper from HSE’s Legal Services Division.

HSE
August 2023