Daily Express

Death crash rail firm fined £450k

- By John Ingham Transport Editor

A RAIL sub-contractor was fined £450,000 and told to pay £300,000 in costs yesterday over the deaths of two welders from fatigue.

Renown Consultant­s Limited was found guilty in March after Zac Payne, 20, and Michael Morris, 48, were killed in a car crash in June 2013.

It was convicted under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the pair were sufficient­ly rested to work and travel safely.

The prosecutio­n is the first by regulator the Office of Rail and Road over failures of fatigue management.

In the previous 25 hours Mr Payne had travelled about 500 miles from Doncaster to Northumber­land and back, and then to Stevenage and back.

The two men died when their car crashed into a parked lorry at 5.30am on their way back to Doncaster after an overnight welding job. Mr Payne was driving despite Renown’s company insurance policy stipulatin­g that only over-25s could drive its vehicles. He had been up for 26 hours.

During the Nottingham Crown Court trial the firm accepted under25s frequently drove its vehicles.

Judge Nigel Godsmark said Renown’s gravest failing was not to perform a suitable risk assessment on the day before the fatalities which led to the company failing to comply with its fatigue management procedures.

The firm also did not comply with the working time limits for safety critical work, which required a minimum rest period of 12 hours between clocking off and on again.

Judge Godsmark said: “Operations and managers knew what they were supposed to do in relation to fatigue but lip service was paid to these systems. Senior operations cut corners and I found blindness in relation to people driving to and from jobs.”

During the trial the ORR told the court that Mr Payne, who like his colleague was on a zero-hours contract, was fatigued and may have fallen asleep at the wheel or experience­d “microsleep­s”, which hugely increased the risk of a traffic accident.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “We welcome the sentence. We hope this has acted as a reminder to companies that safety comes first and fatigue policies should be enforced to ensure their workforce is not too tired to work.”

Renown said it had improved fatigue management since the accident.

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