Hatfield shows a society ‘looking for morality in its bank account’

07 October 2005

ASLEF’s National Organiser Andy Reed says he fears the £13.5 million fines handed out at the Old Baileytoday to Network Rail (formerly Railtrack) and maintenance firm Balfour Beatty would ‘do little to instill a safety culture in a money-obsessed industry’.

‘The fines imposed on the companies that breached health and safety regulations and caused the 2000 Hatfield crash are large and, on the face of it, could even look severe.

‘But it is an illusion created by a society that looks for morality in its bank account.’

‘There is an assumption that you can solve any problem by throwing money at it. Well, you can’t. What price would you put on the four Hatfield dead?’

Andy argues that until individual managers are held to account, companies will not change their view that safety is a secondary consideration – because safety doesn’t make money.

‘I fail to see how the company is guilty, but the people who run it are not. If I drive a car irresponsibly and crash into a bus queue, people don’t turn round and blame the motor,’ he says.

Andy says it is time rail companies stop talking about their alleged concern for safety – and do something about it. ‘We will believe the leopard’s spots have changed when we see in-cab technology to enable drivers to see obstructions on the track ahead, when there is a legal limit on hours and when the UK hasa modern and efficient signal system,’ he says.

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