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Barhale Construction fined £13,000 for failure to protect workers

Barhale Construction PLC has been fined a total of £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,899 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law on a construction site at River Gowy, near Chester in 2011.

On 2 July 2011, Barhale Construction, contracted by Network Rail, was undertaking work to demolish and rebuild the River Gowy Bridge. During this work, the company operated heavy machinery under live overhead electrical power lines. ORR found inadequate precautions had been taken in areas of danger around the power lines and served an immediate prohibition notice to stop all work until adequate safeguards were installed.

The sentencing hearing at Chester Magistrates’ Court follows an investigation by ORR which found that despite identifying the risks on site from overhead lines, the company failed to address the safety risks. ORR found Barhale Construction had not followed its own safety protocol for work under power lines, and safety equipment was not in use on this site. At today’s hearing, Barhale Construction pleaded guilty to a breach of Electricity at Work Regulations for failing to plan and effectively manage against the risks of working near overhead power lines.

Darren Anderson, ORR’s Principal Inspector of Railways, said:

“Barhale Construction was well aware of the inherent risks for work near overhead power lines at the River Gowy site and failed to take adequate safety precautions. The company even had the appropriate safety equipment stored unused on the site. It was just good fortune that no injuries occurred prior to ORR’s intervention.
“ORR inspectors will continue to focus on worker safety in the coming year, including those on rail construction sites. There are still too many occasions where sensible procedures designed to protect workers are ignored and the regulator will continue to press the industry, to defend the safety of those working on Britain’s rail network.”
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