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Easter Road, Edinburgh

A short post this week, marking Easter, with the only case in our database with an Easter connection – however tenuous. Today it’s the case of J Rennie, a surfaceman (track worker) on the North British Railway, injured at Easter Road, in Edinburgh. However, one advantage of choosing a case like this, at random, is that it gives us access to a typical set of circumstances – and as chance would have it, in this case it is a common case.

On 8 September 1911, Rennie had been at work for around 6 and a half hours. He and 10 other men were pushing a wagon into a siding. As it approached other wagons on the same line Rennie put his right hand on the buffer spindle ‘in order to steady himself’. The buffers closed up as the wagons met, catching two of his fingers; one was fractured, and one was crushed sufficiently that it was later amputated. The inspecting officer, Charles Campbell, concluded that the accident was due to ‘want of care on the part of the injured man’ (1911 Quarter 3, Appendix C).

Later advice to railway workers on a similar cause of accidents. LMS accident prevention image, c.1924.

Pinches and crushes like this – whether between buffer head and casing, when hands or feet were placed on the buffer spindles, or between buffer heads on stock as it met – were very common. Mostly they had outcomes as in Rennie’s case, serious enough for the individual, but in the grand scheme of things relatively minor (certainly when compared with the fatalities and loss of limbs documented elsewhere in our database). Does the fact that these cases were ‘small’ make them any the less significant? Does the fact that the ‘lesser’ injuries were more common make them more significant? How do we judge the relative ‘merits’ of the cases within the database – or even should we?

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