Logistics company WH Malcolm Ltd, who trade as Malcolm Group, provides rail and road transport as well as warehousing and operating major freight terminals, were found guilty of failing to prevent unauthorised access to Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal following the death of an 11-year-old boy.
The company was found guilty by a jury at Northampton Crown Court after the prosecution was brought by the Office of Rail and Road who are the rail regulator.
In June 2017, Harrison Ballantyne and his friends found easy access into the Daventry depot.
The 11-year-old was killed after climbing on top of a stationary freight wagon and receiving an electric shock from an overhead line.
Despite the efforts of paramedics, the boy was pronounced dead at the scene.
The three-week trial heard how the Office of Road and Rails investigated the incident and found WH Malcolm Ltd had not just failed to assess a risk of unauthorised entry onto the terminal site. The logistics company had also failed to apply measures to stop unauthorised access to the part of their site where numerous freight movements took place, and overhead line equipment carried electricity at 25,000 volts.
Another failing by the company was consistently placing freight wagons under electrified lines which gave access to the area of high voltage cable which would not have been accessible had alternative placement been provided.
The Office of Rail and Road inspected the site immediately after the incident, issuing WH Malcolm with an improvement notice which enforced immediate action to be taken to improve the boundary fence which the company complied with by installing new fencing within the agreed deadline.
WH Malcolm were charged and found guilty of two offences under Section 3 (1) of 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 exposed to risks to their health and safety through the conduct of their undertaking) and Regulation 3 of 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).
The sentencing of WH Malcolm will take place on Friday the 30th of July 2021.
Ian Prosser, Chief Inspector of Railways said: “Our thoughts are with Harrison’s loved ones and family.
“The rail industry knows the dangers of the railway and must do what it can to prevent unauthorised access and in this case, WH Malcom Ltd didn’t. The company failed to manage the risks and prevent unauthorised access, and its approach to the management of risks had fallen far short of the standard that we expect from duty holders. This was an entirely avoidable tragedy.
“It should act as a reminder that we must do more to tackle trespass, despite the good work that has been done to educate children.”
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