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NR fined £70,000 for not complying with electrical cabinet safety order

Network Rail has been fined £70,000 for failing to comply with an ORR improvement notice to make electrical cabinets on the railway safe.

Back in November 2013, following an investigation into two incidents where rail workers suffered electric shocks while maintaining signalling equipment, the regulator served two improvement notices on Network Rail.

The first required the infrastructure owner to inspect thousands of 650V electrical cabinets, which revealed there were cabinets to which members of the public were exposed. The second notice required the company to bring these up to a safe standard.

However, the company did not make sufficient progress with this work and failed to comply with the notice by the due date, leading ORR to prosecute.

On 4 August, Network Rail pleaded guilty to the offence at Blackfriars Crown Court under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. As well as the £70,000 fine, the infrastructure owner was ordered to pay costs of £94,966.

Jon Shaw, chief engineer at Network Rail was in court to accept the fine. He said: “The safety of our staff and the public is at the heart of everything we do so we’d like to reassure people that injuries on the railway, and in particular to the public are very rare. 

“A member of the public has never received an electric shock from a Network Rail location case. Since complying with the improvement notice, we’re confident that even the very rare occurrence of a member of staff receiving an electric shock while working on a location case would not happen in the future.”

Daniel Bulcock, ORR inspector, said that prior to the enforcement action the electrical cabinets posed a “very real safety risk”.

“I am pleased to report that Network Rail has now taken appropriate action to improve the safety of these cabinets,” he added. “We will continue to work with the railway industry to continually improve management of health and safety.”

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Lutz   09/08/2016 at 02:10

It would be more interesting to know exactly why NR failed, and the identity of those responsible for the failure, to comply with the notice. It is also disconcerting to see the wording of the statement made by NR after the ruling; it is not appropriate to attempt to deflect criticism of the organisation when it has clearly failed to comply with a regulator's corrective instruction and subsequently lost a legal case over the matter. We should be seeing announcements about people being invited to leave the organisation rather than a insolent retort.

Paul Hepworth   09/08/2016 at 16:36

I've accessed umpteed location cases with 650v supplies in them and always heeded and respected the safety stickers and equipment shrouding. And we were taught never to leave a location case open and unattended, especially if located on a station platform.

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