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LU fined £500,000 after near-fatal lift shaft accident

London Underground (LU) has been fined £500,000 for breaching health and safety law after a maintenance worker was left seriously injured from a fall in a disused Tube station in 2014.

An investigation by the ORR into the incident at South Kentish Town tube station on 22 September 2014 found that a worker fell more than 30ft down from a tower scaffold while cleaning a former lift shaft, leading him to spend 10 days in hospital.

The regulator has now concluded that LU failed to properly plan, manage and supervise the work. Evidence showed that procedures were available which may have prevented the incident, but they had not been implemented or followed – with the tower scaffold incorrectly assembled and its stability not assessed.

LU was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in legal costs after pleading guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Blackfriars Crown Court back in October of this year.

Keith Atkinson, HM principal inspector of railways said: “In 2014, LU’s failure to properly plan, manage or supervise maintenance work at the disused station in South Kentish Town led to a worker spending 10 days in hospital, and could have been fatal.

“LU has a good safety record, but this incident highlights why there can be no room for complacency. Safety remains a top priority for the rail regulator. We will always take action against companies or individuals where failings are found.”

Following the incident, ORR immediately served two prohibition notices on LU relating to unsafe access into the former lift shaft and the incorrectly assembled scaffold. LU eventually fully addressed these issues, thereby enabling both prohibition notices to be discharged.

In response to the fresh findings, a TfL spokesperson said: “This was clearly a serious incident involving one of our employees and we acted quickly to investigate the causes and take action to ensure that it does not happen again.”

South Kentish Town Tube station opened in 1907 but closed in 1924 because it did not see enough footfall. The old entrance to the Tube station is now occupied by a pawnbroker.

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