Friday, July 04, 2008

Network Rail's Slapdash Safety Kills Rail Worker

Employers' disregard for workers' safety has claimed another victim.

Malcolm Slater was an overhead lines supervisor, an RMT member, and a long-serving railway worker just months away from his retirement.

On June 11, the metal ‘basket’ of a Unimog hoist fell away from its hydraulic arm during work on the overhead line at Margaretting, Essex, injuring three men. One of the three, Malcom, died of his injuries in hospital on Tuesday morning, July 1.

You may have noticed that my report on RMT's AGM referred to a debate on these "lethal Unimog machines". That debate unanimously demanded the withdrawal from use of all Unimog hydraulic hoists pending a proper investigation and appropriate action to remedy a serious design fault. As we debated, we were told that Malcolm's life was hanging by a thread, and it is devastating to hear now that he lost his battle to survive.

Workers and union reps had already raised concerns about the single weld which attached the basket to the arm, predicting that a serious accident could occur. Network Rail, however, were not bothered enough to take the machines out of service while the concerns were investigated. I wonder why - might have cost them money? The company's inaction has cost Malcolm Slater his life.

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