Memorandum by Balfour Beatty (RER 02)|
BALFOUR BEATTY AND THE HATFIELD DERAILMENT
Balfour Beatty is working closely with Railtrack,
the Health & Safety Executive and all other involved parties
to determine the cause of the tragic accident at Hatfield and
to understand the contributing factors.
Inevitably, there has been much speculation
about the cause of the accident and the events in the period leading
up to it.
The relevant investigations will take some time
to complete and will involve reviewing and analysing a vast amount
of data and a wide range of related issues. At this stage, it
may be misleading to focus attention on any particular aspect
of the investigation until its context is properly understood.
While it is clear that mistakes have been made, no clear indication
yet exists as to which aspects of the operations, maintenance
and renewals process and which events were critical in leading
to the accident.
Balfour Beatty regards the health and safety
of its employees and anyone who could be affected by its activities
as of fundamental importance. The Board regularly receives and
reviews reports from group companies on safety matters. All the
group's constituent companies operate under the discipline of
robust, risk-based, safety management systems, which are appraised
on a regular basis in order to meet best practice objectives.
As a result of the development of a strong safety
culture within the group, Balfour Beatty's safety performance,
already good, has improved significantly over the past 10 years.
For instance, in the period 1994-99, the group's safety performance
improved by more than 40 per cent and this year the company achieved
a reduction of over 20 per cent in its insurance premiums as a
direct result of this trend. In addition, 20,000 man days of safety
training are organised each year within the group.
Balfour Beatty's commitment to implementing
rigorous safety procedures has been recognised on several occasions
by independent bodies.
In 1999, the company's work on the most complex
sector of the Jubilee Line was awarded the British Safety Council's
Sword of Honour. In two major businesses acquired from the public
sector in the period since 1994, the application of Balfour Beatty's
safety management systems has substantially improved the acquired
companies' safety performance. Furthermore, this year our Major
Projects business has won the RoSPA Gold Award for achieving three
successive years of substantial improvement in occupational safety
Despite the priority given to Health and Safety
throughout the group, we have occasionally lapsed from our very
high standards. In some instances, this has led to prosecutions.
Such incidents are the subject of painstaking internal investigations
and the lessons learned have been thoroughly integrated into policy,
procedures and practice.
Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance, that part of
the group currently responsible for maintenance on the East Coast
Main Line and several other contract areas, uses a Safety Management
System which is based on the widely recognised International Safety
Rating System. All of its contract areas have achieved a level
five score on this system, a standard of compliance achieved by
virtually no other user of the system, which include many large,
safety-critical companies. Each contract area has achieved level
five after starting at level zero at the time of privatisation.
The company employs approximately 300 track
inspectors and 65 ultrasonic rail testing staff. Over the last
two years, Track Quality Exceedences have been reduced to less
than a third of their 1997 levels in maintenance areas for which
we are responsible.
Accident frequency rates have more than halved
in the companies comprising Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance over
the last five years. This has been achieved despite very significant
increases in rail traffic in those areas maintained by BBRM. Over
the last two years, train performance on those sections of the
track maintained by Balfour Beatty has improved by more than 20
Balfour Beatty Rail Maintenance had its Assurance
Case, which describes its Safety, Quality and Environmental arrangements,
endorsed by Railtrack in August 2000. This followed the regular
annual and product specific audits conducted by Railtrack.
Balfour Beatty is working closely with Railtrack
in its current nationwide programme of inspection and rerailing
10 November 2000