Employee’s ignored warnings lead to £800,000 fine

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Alan Evans, a former Network Rail employee, was almost killed by a Brighton-to-London train, while working on what should have been a safe stretch of track.

Mr Evans was leading a group of 12 engineers working to upgrade the tracks near Redhill, which were suffering from metal fatigue and at risk of causing a terrible rail accident. One member of the team was posted as a “lookout”, further down the line, alerting the rest of the workers to an oncoming train. If the lookout spotted an oncoming train, he was to alert the others, who would take shelter on the side of a 45 degree bank, leaving 150cm between themselves and the train tracks. However, in this instance, the layout of the work area meant that the lookout was positioned at a distance which would give him less than 20 seconds to warn the others of an oncoming train. Ultimately, this resulted in Mr Evans being hit by a train travelling at 80mph, almost entirely destroying his shoulder.

With more than 20 surgeries on the shoulder, it’s still likely that Mr Evans’ right arm will eventually be amputated, and compensation claims are not far from his mind, as he’s now unable to work. Network Rail were ordered to pay £800,000 in fines associated with breaches of health and safety regulations, which is especially poignant to Mr Evans, as he himself had raised concerns over the safety of the high risk site before work began, but was simply told that management would look into it.

Lawyers at Guildford Crown Court stated that the work could reasonably have been carried out at night, when trains don’t run along the Redhill stretch of the line, and removing any risk of a worker being hit. Network Rail’s insistence on the work being completed during the day exposed their workers to unnecessary risk, and was what ultimately caused Mr Evans’ injuries.

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