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Tuesday, July 27, 1999 Published at 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK


Paying the price of safety failures

Six people died when a ferry walkway collapsed in 1994

The £1.5m fine for the Southall rail crash is the biggest yet for a breach of health and safety laws against a single company.

The largest payout followed the collapse of a ferry passenger walkway, which led to a fine of £1.7m under health and safety legislation.

Four companies shared the fine in 1997 after six people died and seven were injured, when the walkway fell apart at Port Ramsgate, Kent in 1994.

[ image: BP Oil was fined £750,000 in 1988]
BP Oil was fined £750,000 in 1988
The Swedish firm which built the walkway was fined £750,000, Lloyd's Register of Shipping, which certified it, was fined £500,000, the designers were fined £250,000 and Port Ramsgate had to pay £200,000.

The previous highest fine for a single company was £1.2m, imposed on Balfour Beatty earlier this year after three tunnels collapsed during the building of the Heathrow Express railway link in 1994.

No-one was injured in the incident at Heathrow Airport, but Austrian firm Geoconsult was also fined £500,000.

Other large fines include:

  • £750,000 for BP Oil for three deaths at the Grangemouth refinery in Scotland in 1987

  • £500,000 for Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance for the derailment of a freight train at Rivenhall, Essex

  • £425,000 for Sainsbury's after an employee died at a distribution depot in Basingstoke in 1996

  • £250,000 for Nobel Explosives, part of ICI, after a fireman died in an incident at an industrial estate in Peterborough in 1989.

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