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Company fined after fatal accident at work

Railcare Ltd has been fined £133,000 (reduced from £200,000 on account of their guilty plea) at Glasgow Sheriff Court for a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, following the death of one of their employees in December 2008. John Smith, a 53-year old employee of the company, died as a result of head injuries sustained whilst working at an axle lathe that had an unguarded chuck.

The company pled guilty to:

  • failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risks to employees when cleaning axles on a lathe;
  • failing to implement a safe system of work in that the chuck of the lathe was unguarded when employees were working close to it; and
  • failing to provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision on the use of the lathe.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

“This case yet again demonstrates the crucial importance of employers carrying out suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to their employees in the course of their daily work, taking the steps necessary to identify such risks, and thereafter ensuring that safe systems of work are in place and dangerous machinery parts are properly guarded. Railcare failed in each of these respects in relation to the axle lathe.”

"As a result, Mr Smith lost his life in an entirely avoidable incident.”


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