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Clear safety message to rail operators from sentencing


The sentencing decision of KiwiRail and MBD Contracting released by the Christchurch District Court today is a reminder for rail participants and their sub-contractors using the rail network of the need to keep their workers safe, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says.

KiwiRail and MBD Contracting pleaded guilty in November 2019 to charges relating to section 7 of the Railways Act. The charges alleged that they each failed to ensure the safety of workers, contrary to the Act. KiwiRail was fined $137,500 and MBD Contracting Limited was fined $75,000 in a sentence handed down by District Court Judge SJ O'Driscoll today. Both KiwiRail and MBD Contracting were also ordered to pay reparations of $20,000 each.

The conviction and sentencing follow an incident in August 2018 on the Midland Line near Greymouth while the line was undergoing maintenance. An MBD Contracting high-rail excavator reversing down the track ran over a KiwiRail site foreman, seriously injuring the foreman’s right leg, which was later amputated below the knee.

“This sentencing sends a clear message that rail operators and their subcontractors have a fundamental duty to ensure the safety of all people working on the rail system,” Waka Kotahi Safer Rail Senior Manager Ray McMillan says.

“A worker was badly injured and has had his quality of life significantly affected by this avoidable incident.

“It is a stark reminder of the importance of having a robust safety system that is well implemented to safeguard all workers against the inherent hazards of working on the rail network.

“The safety of workers is paramount and Waka Kotahi will take firm action when organisations fall short of their obligations under the Railways Act.

“These convictions highlight the importance of principals and contractors to co-operate with each other to keep their workers safe.”

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