Page last updated at 21:03 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Workers die in falls from Forth and Tay bridges

Robert MacDonald
Robert MacDonald died after falling from the Forth Bridge

Two workmen have died after falling from two of Scotland's main railway bridges within hours of each other.

Robert MacDonald, 52, from Harthill, who was a member of the Forth Bridge painting team, fell about 150ft from a ladder at about 2100 GMT on Wednesday.

Another worker, David Rodger, 44, from Cowdenbeath in Fife, died after falling onto a ledge while working on the Tay Bridge on Thursday morning.

Network Rail has launched an investigation into the deaths.

Mr MacDonald was killed when he fell from a ladder on the north side of the Forth Bridge onto scaffolding below the railway tracks on Wednesday evening.

Police, paramedics and life boat crews were called out but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Inquiries surrounding the death of Mr Rodger are ongoing, although it is thought he may have fallen about 6ft.

Police are also not ruling out the possibility he may have died of natural causes.

These tragic events have deeply shocked and saddened everyone linked to these projects
David Simpson
Network Rail Scotland

A British Transport Police spokesman said: "At 6.40am on Thursday, 28 January, BTP received a report of a man having fallen from a ladder onto a ledge under the Tay Rail Bridge.

"The man, who was a contractor, died at the scene.

"Police and paramedics attended the scene and HM Railway Inspectorate has been informed."

A report will be sent to the local procurator fiscal.

Both men were working as contractors on behalf of Network Rail on projects to refurbish the two bridges by stripping off old paintwork and repainting them.

Mr Rodger, who died at the Tay bridge, worked for ThyssenKrupp Palmers, a maintenance and construction company.

Mr MacDonald was a sub-contractor for Balfour Beatty.

Safety procedures

David Simpson, Network Rail Scotland route director, said his thoughts were with the men's families and their co-workers.

He added: "It is with great sadness that we have received news of the deaths of two of our contractors who were working on the Forth and Tay Bridges.

"At 8.50pm last night, a member of the painting team working at the Forth Bridge fell from height and subsequently died from his injuries.

"At around 7am this morning, we received reports of a fall at the Tay Bridge. Sadly, this accident has also resulted in the death of one of our contractors.

"These tragic events have deeply shocked and saddened everyone linked to these projects.

Forth Bridge fall/Pic: Bruce Whitehead
Emergency services were called to Forth Bridge on Wednesday night

"Such events have become extremely rare in the last decade as a result of rigorous safety regimes on both bridges. An investigation into the causes of these accidents is already underway."

The last recorded death of a worker in a fall at the Forth Bridge was about 32 years ago. In 1992 a worker died when he was clipped by a train.

Network Rail said there have have been no recorded incidents at the Tay Rail Bridge.

Ian Prosser, the director of railway safety at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), said inquiries would take place to determine whether safety procedures needed to be tightened following the tragedies.

He said: "Our thoughts are with the families of the two men involved in these separate tragic events.

"Our inspectors have launched an investigation into the Forth bridge accident and we are awaiting further details about the Tay bridge incident.

"We expect to investigate both to find out exactly what happened and quickly identify whether more should be done to prevent other deaths or injuries."

Rail services across the Tay Bridge, which spans the Firth of Tay, are unaffected by the incident. Services across the Forth Bridge are also unaffected.

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The Courier Two men killed in bridge falls - 9 hrs ago
Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette Workmen die in bridge falls - 13 hrs ago
Herald Scotland Double tragedy as painters are killed in falls from rail bridges - 15 hrs ago
New Civil Engineer Two workers die in falls from Network Rail bridge sites - 18 hrs ago
Telegraph Two workmen die after falling from railway bridges - 20 hrs ago

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