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Site security failing results in £1.2m fine

10 Jan 20 Failure to prevent thrill-seekers from breaking into construction sites looks likely to become a whole lot more expensive after a £1.2m fine was handed down this week.

Rail freight operator DB Cargo (UK) Ltd was yesterday fined £1.2m, with nearly £28,000 costs, after being convicted of an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

DB Cargo was prosecuted by industry regulator the Office of Rail & Road (ORR) after children were electrocuted at its Bescot Yard freight terminal in Walsall on 1st June 2017.

Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court heard how three 13-year-old boys got in through a hole in the fence next to playing fields. Two of the three boys climbed on top of a train, and while standing on the roof, one suffered a devastating electric shock from the 25,000 V overhead power lines. He sustained 40% burns and life changing injuries. The second child sustained burns to his hand and a broken arm. The third child was not physically harmed.

Damningly for DB Cargo, the ORR investigation discovered that the company knew that members of the public were often gaining unauthorised access to the site, with 35 incidents documented between July 2012 and June 2017. On 28th May 2017, just a few days prior to the incident, DB Cargo recorded that several youths had been spotted clambering over locomotives.

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And it is not a unique location. In March 2019 DB Cargo was fined £2.7m after children were injured at its Tyne Yard depot.

HM chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: "We welcome the sentence which shows the seriousness with which the court has taken this case, and we expect the rail industry to make sure their sites are secure and minimise the chances of a repeat of this incident.

"We hope this acts as a reminder to adults and children to stay off railway sites which can be very dangerous places."

With temporary construction sites facing similar security concerns to permanent rail yards – and similar attractions to young thrill seekers – the size of fines handed down to  DB Cargo are sure to have ramifications, increasing the need for contractors to ensure the effectiveness of their site security.

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