Firm’s breach of health and safety ‘could have resulted in train passengers being hurt or even killed’

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A Co Down company’s failure to remove equipment from the Belfast to Dublin railway line after carrying out repair work could have resulted in a serious train crash, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has said.

At Lisburn Magistrates Court on Thursday, Northern Excavators Ltd, of Culcavy Road, Hillsborough, was fined a total of £8,000 for failing to remove an excavator bucket from the Belfast to Dublin line following an overnight operation for track rehabilitation works. This resulted in a six-carriage passenger train striking the bucket the following morning, fortunately with no significant injuries to passengers on board.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, “Northern Excavators Ltd had been sub-contracted to carry out the work because of their expertise in working on railway lines. However, they failed to have adequate safety precautions in place during the repair operation, which could have resulted in passengers being hurt or even killed.”

For breaching Article 5(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 the company was fined £4,000.

The firm was fined a further £4,000 for breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation (Northern Ireland) 2000.

HSENI Inspector Linda Murphy said: “This case highlights the dangers of railway maintenance with inadequate safe systems of working. Appropriate attention must therefore be given by those who work on such activities, to ensure that high standards of safety control are in place at all times.”

Northern Excavators Ltd was also ordered to pay court costs of £1,092.