Big fine for a small company for a failure to manage fatigue

May 13, 2020

Renown Railway Services were sentenced by HHJ Godsmark QC sitting at Nottingham Crown Court conducting a remote hearing involving David Travers QC, leading Nick Ostrowski, for the Office of Rail & Road.

The prosecution arose from the death of Zac Payne (20) and Mick Morris (48) two employees of Renown Consultants Limited (trading as Renown Railway Services), a contractor to Network Rail, as they returned home in the small hours of the morning after carrying out welding work on the railway infrastructure. On 19 March 2020 the jury convicted the company of three offences. The first, contrary to section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, in relation to the risk to employees; the second contrary to section 3 of the same act in relation to the risk to people other than employees, and the third in relation to regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 for failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

HHJ Godsmark QC concluded that the company had systems which were adequate if properly implemented but that they were not implemented. He found that there were long-standing serious and systemic failings within the company and concluded that Renown’s culpability for those failings was high. He also concluded there was a high likelihood of death or very serious injury. Based upon its turnover the company was a small company for the purpose of the Sentencing Guideline and His Honour moved up from the starting point in the Guideline because two men had died and others had put themselves at risk trying to rescue them from their burning vehicle.

The Judge concluded that Renown would be fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £300,000 in costs.

The case is the first prosecution by the ORR in relation to failures of fatigue management and may have wide ranging implications for the management of fatigue both within and outside the rail industry.

The case also involved an interesting pre-trial trip to the Court of Appeal against a ruling about the jurisdiction of the ORR in respect of which reporting restrictions have just been lifted.

Link to media coverage:

Office of Road & Rail News
BBC News
Construction News
Construction Enquirer
Nottingham Post
Health & Safety Matters
Commercial Fleet