Essex

New checks call after rail death in Essex

A coroner has called for new safety checks after hearing how an Essex rail worker was fatally injured when a "poorly welded" basket fell on to him.

Caroline Beasley-Murray said she would write to the Office of Rail Regulation asking inspectors to ensure new welds on lifting gear had been fully tested.

Malcolm Slater, 64, of Harold Wood, died in hospital after the incident at Margaretting, Essex, in June 2008.

Mrs Beasley-Murray instructed jurors to record a verdict of accidental death.

Effects of fatigue

Metallurgist Keith Birkitt told the inquest in Chelmsford on Wednesday that the quality of the weld had been "poor in places".

Mr Birkitt also said more assessment of the effects of fatigue on the weld should have been carried out.

Network Rail made improvements to lifting machinery after the accident, the hearing was told.

Workers were called in after a train brought down overhead lines about 25 miles north of Liverpool Street station, London, the inquest heard.

A court official told jurors that the basket "sheared off" then landed on Mr Slater, who had been working with fellow "linemen" Phil Miles and Daniel Wild.

Mr Birkitt had been asked to make an expert assessment by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), jurors heard.

He said 16% of the weld had been too thin and data analysis showed that the basket's maximum weight limit had been exceeded on the day of the accident and the day before.

Mrs Beasley-Murray said she wanted the ORR to ensure that new welds were strong enough.

"There may be aspects of this case that have caused you some concern," the coroner told jurors.

"The court has to say it is unfortunate that it was in the wake of a tragedy like this that these safety improvements have been put in place."

A spokesman for the ORR said after the hearing: "We will now conclude our investigation to determine whether any action needs to be taken against any person or company for health and safety offences arising from the incident."

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