A coroner has criticised TfL after an engineer was crushed to death while working on the travelator at Waterloo Station.
Christian Tuvi, 44, died of blunt force trauma to the chest while in the gap repairing the moving escalator at Waterloo Station on September 18, 2019.
A jury concluded that there was an inadequate briefing given to the operatives working on the travelator, employed by subcontractors Cleshar, and a failure to give an audible warning that a site supervisor was about to move it before it crashed into Mr Tuvi’s chest.
On Tuesday, senior coroner Andrew Harris issued a rare “prevention of future deaths” notice over the father-of-three’s death and warned that new regulation may be needed to prevent a repeat.
The inquest heard that TfL and Cleshar, which TfL uses to clean Underground tracks and the walkway, were at an impasse over whose responsibility it was to provide crucial training four years after the death.
Today we’re taking a moment to remember our client Christian Tuvi. He lost his life working in Waterloo station 2 years ago. He left behind his common law wife Abigail and three young children. TFL unveiled a memorial plaque on the anniversary at the moving walkway where he died. pic.twitter.com/ZuhVk9IghD
— Simpson Millar (@Simpson_millar) September 18, 2021
Mr Harris said: “It seems that TfL has the power to produce a resolution, but is leaving matters to others to resolve.
“It is hard not to conclude that there is corporate reluctance to assume risk for an important public service.
“The regulatory bodies and contractors in the supply chain have allowed this matter to remain unresolved for an unacceptable length of time and there may be a system failure in the allocation of responsibilities and powers in the process of contracting for cleaning escalators.”
He said that TfL familiarisation training for working in a plant room no longer covers “inching” as part of the course, the process of making small, incremental movements, when operatives are working on a deep clean.
Instead, TfL expects their contractors to provide inching training for their operatives.
However, the coroner added, Cleshar have not in the past assessed their cleaners for competence to inch and there is no agreed standard of competence.
Mr Harris sent a copy of his warning to Transport Secretary Mark Harper, saying: “These matters remain in dispute and may need political and regulatory enforcement.”
The Transport Secretary now has to respond by September 4 on what action will be taken to avoid a repeat.
TfL’s Chief Operating Officer Glynn Barton said Mr Tuvi’s death was a “tragedy” and that the transport body had been offering support to his family throughout the “deeply distressing” inquest process.
“I’d like to reassure staff and customers that the safety of everyone working or travelling on our network is always our top priority, and we take the issues raised by the Coroner in his report extremely seriously,” he said.
“We have already taken action to ensure that lessons learned from the incident were shared with industry partners, and we will continue discussions with our contractors on the issues raised during the inquest.
“We continue to focus on improving safety and will implement new safety measures which will keep our colleagues and contractors safe.”
The inquest had been suspended while the British Transport Police investigated but no charges were brought. Mr Tuvi’s family is pursuing a civil claim against Cleshar.
A Cleshar spokesperson said: “All at Cleshar were deeply saddened by Christian Tuvi’s tragic death. Our thoughts remain with Christian’s family.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of all those working at the company. As there are ongoing legal proceedings, it is inappropriate for us to make any further comment at this stage.”