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Network Rail set to face trial over death of railway worker

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: February 19, 2013

By Georgina Cotton georgina.cotton@essexchronicle.co.uk

accident on the track:  Malcolm Slater died when the metal basket of a hoist, like the one pictured right in Chelmsford, fell away from its hydraulic arm

accident on the track: Malcolm Slater died when the metal basket of a hoist, like the one pictured right in Chelmsford, fell away from its hydraulic arm

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NETWORK Rail is due to stand trial over the death of a worker who fell 15ft on to a railway line.

Malcolm Slater, 64, was in the metal basket of a hoist fixing an overhead railway cable near Margaretting when the basket's welds weakened and it fell away from its hydraulic arm.

Mr Slater, of Harold Wood, near Romford, suffered serious spinal injuries when he fell on to the line in June 2008.

He died 20 days later in Queen's Hospital, Romford.

Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd, of Islington, North London, entered not guilty pleas to three charges brought by the Office of Rail Regulation at Chelmsford Crown Court on February 11, where a three week trial was fixed for September 2.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, the rail firm is accused of failing to ensure the suitability of work equipment, failing to provide adequate health and safety information to people using and supervising the equipment, and failing to ensure adequate training for people using the equipment in relation to mobile elevated platforms.

Two of Mr Slater's colleagues, Phil Miles and Daniel Wild, were also in the basket at the time of the accident and were later said to be office-bound due to their injuries.

At an inquest into Mr Slater's death in October 2010, a jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

After the verdict Mr Miles said: "It was just a normal day. I remember feeling unsteady on my feet in the basket. I heard a noise. I could not tell you what the noise sounded like but I just knew whatever it was it wasn't right. And then I remember nothing.

"We lost a very good supervisor, a great friend, and he was a loving husband and father."

Since the accident, Network Rail said it made a series of improvements to lifting machinery.

Network Rail engineer Bob Chatten said after the inquest that welds had been strengthened, safety bolts fitted, and that lights and alarms warning that the basket was overloaded had been improved.

He added that technical data about overloads was also available to rail managers.

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