Glasgow & West Scotland

Railcare Limited fined £133,000 over John Smith death

A company has been fined £133,000 over health and safety failings after an employee died from head injuries while carrying out maintenance work.

John Smith, 53, died after he hit his head while using a machine to polish a train axle at Railcare Limited's site in Glasgow in December 2008.

The firm admitted multiple health and safety failures over Mr Smith's death.

The fine imposed on Railcare, which is based in Milton Keynes, was reduced from £200,000 after its guilty plea.

During a previous hearing, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Mr Smith was employed as a fitter/turner at the Springburn site and had worked there for about 30 years.

Sleeve caught

On 15 December 2008, he was cleaning a train axle using a machine known as a lathe.

He was found lying on his back at the site, wearing only one glove and with a "considerable" amount of blood beside him. Mr Smith died of a head injury.

Although there was no witness of the incident, it is believed his sleeve was caught in the machine and pulled him towards it.

The court was told that the lathe did not have a guard fitted to it to protect workers.

Railcare pleaded guilty to failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees, to which they were exposed when cleaning.

It admitted failing to provide and maintain a system of work that was safe and without risk to the health and safety of employees.

The firm also admitted failing to ensure that protection was on the machine used by Mr Smith and that employees did not work too close to it.

Railcare admitted failing to provide suitable and sufficient instruction, information and supervision in terms of the use of the machine and as a result Mr Smith came into contact with the unguarded machine used to clean the axle.

Following the case, Health and Safety Executive inspector Lesley Hammond said: "This is a tragic incident that need never have happened.

"Although lathes are common in workplaces throughout the country, they are potentially lethal. A chuck guard should always be in place and safe working practices should always be adhered to.

"In this case, supervision throughout the company failed to act on these matters. This contributed to a working environment which had safety procedures in place on paper, but permitted them to be disregarded in practice."

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