constructionA major rail infrastructure company has been fined after a man suffered serious hand injuries in two separate incidents less than a year apart.

On 12 May 2009 Keith Hawley, 64, of Chaddesdon, Derby, was manoeuvring a large piece of rail track into a press at Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd in Osmaston Street, Sandiacre, when his right hand became trapped between the rail and a conveyor roller.

He suffered flesh wounds and a broken finger on that occasion, but on 29 March 2010 the other hand was seriously injured when Mr Hawley became trapped for a second time while carrying out the same work.

The little finger on his left hand was severely crushed and his ring finger had to be partially amputated.

Nottingham Crown Court heard today (22 February) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that on both occasions the machine did not have adequate guarding to protect workers.

The court heard that the company was in the process of fitting a guarding system in response to the first incident, but had not completed the task.

Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd, of Station Road, Redhill, Surrey, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to provide a safe system of work. The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £41,438.

After the hearing HSE inspector Berian Price said:

“Both of these incidents were preventable. Guarding could and should have been provided, but there were other systems of work in the company’s operating manuals that could have been used, such as using an overhead crane to move the rail or using a pulling bracket. Instead workers like Keith Hawley were left to their own devices and adopted an unsafe system that exposed them to injury risk.

“The fact that this incident happened once was bad enough but for it to have happened a second time, to the same man, is deplorable. Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems is a large organisation with a lot of resources. They should have acted a lot quicker than they did. Mr Hawley has suffered unnecessarily as a result of their failings.”