£130,000 fine for Network Rail amid health and safety failings

The company has been fined for health and safety breaches after a worker was hit by a 25,000 volt

The company, Network Rail, have been fined £130,000 for health and safety failings after one of their workers was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge whilst repairing an overhead line, close to Ardrossan South Beach Station.

The Network Rail worker, David McDermott, suffered “catastrophic injuries” in the incident, which occurred back in 2009.

The company admitted that they had failed to provide safe working documentation and did not make sure that work was only carried out on isolated areas of the line.

The crews that were carrying out the repairs in North Ayrshire, had been given a ‘hopelessly inaccurate’ work diagram by Network Rail, the court heard.

Network Rail fined for health and safety failings

A Network Rail safety poster

Since the incident, the company have improved their working systems, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told.

When the incident occurred back in 2009, Mr McDermott was working with a colleague in a mobile platform. He was fixing an isolated area of cable when he touched a live wire. Mr McDermott was hit by a 25,000 volt power surge.

Mr McDermott was severely injured as a result of the incident, causing serious loss of function and years of surgery, the court heard.

Mr McDermott’s injuries were described as ‘catastrophic’ by Sheriff Alistair Watson, who went on to say that no penalty would cover the price, or value of the suffering and pain that Mr McDermott still experienced.

“The obvious failure in the system, which is perhaps self-evident, is the fact that the schematic or diagram used as an essential guide for those involved in the repair operation was hopelessly inaccurate for a considerable length of time, despite it potentially being an issue of life and death importance, ” said Sheriff Alistair Watson.

The Sheriff also added that the diagram guide appeared to have been in constant use by those workers who trusted that their employer would keep them safe.

Putting it bluntly, this meant that a serious incident of this nature, whilst maybe not inevitable, was sooner or later, very likely.

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