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Fine after boy was electrocuted in freight yard

THE operator of Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal near Rugby has been fined £6.5 million after being found guilty of negligence over the death of an 11 year-old boy in June 2017.

Northampton Crown Court heard that Harrison Ballantyne and some friends entered the terminal to retrieve a football, and while he was there he climbed on to a stationary wagon and received a fatal electric shock from the 25kV overhead.

The terminal’s operator WH Malcolm Limited was found guilty of two offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 — failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety through the conduct of their undertaking — and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 — failing to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment.

During the three week trial, Office of Rail and Road inspectors told how they had discovered that WH Malcolm had failed to assess the risk of unauthorised access to the terminal, and also how wagons were left on electrified lines when non-electrified sidings were available.

Judge Lucking said: ‘In contesting this trial the defendant failed to take responsibility for a serious and obvious failing to allow public access to what is and was a dangerous environment.’

The ORR’s chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser added: ’It is only right that WH Malcom are held to account for failing to prevent unauthorised access and for failing to manage the risks in what should have been an entirely avoidable tragedy.

‘The railway industry has done some excellent work in preventing trespass and educating children about the risks, but this case serves as a reminder that should access to the railway not be properly controlled, serious events like this occur.’

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