Rail company fined £75,000 after worker receives electric shock

12 January 2009

Maintrain Limited, part of National Express Group, was today fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £8,584 in costs for failing to ensure the heath and safety of people working in one of its maintenance depots.

The prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) followed an incident on 16 February 2007 where a maintenance worker received an electric shock while working in Maintrain Limited’s Soho Light maintenance depot in Handsworth, Birmingham. The worker was removing a cover used to protect the train axles. The train, which should have been isolated, was electrified at the time.

He suffered significant muscle damage to his chest, had burns to his hands, and required treatment to his legs resulting in being off of work for two months.

An investigation by ORR’s railway inspectorate found inadequate risk assessment by the company and a failure to implement safe systems of work.

Commenting on the case, principal railway inspector for ORR Darren Anderson said: “This was a serious incident and shows the importance of proper planning and implementation of safe systems of work.

“It should be noted that, had all axle covers been removed from the train, the full voltage of 25,000 volts could have passed through the worker.  It is therefore only through luck that the consequences of this incident were not even more serious. 

“ORR’s investigation highlighted several failings in Maintrain’s procedures including inadequate risk assessments, a lack of training in the procedures for work on electrical systems and insufficient supervision. ORR will continue to press companies working in the railway industry to properly manage risks.”

Notes to Editors

1. Due to a change in franchising arrangements, Soho Light Maintenance Depot has not been operated by Maintrain Limited since December 2007. 
2. Maintrain Limited pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
3. Section 2(1) of the Act requires an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of its employees. 
4.Section 3(1) of the Act requires an employer to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the way in which they conduct their undertaking does not affect the health and safety of other people.

Press enquiries

ORR Press Office – 020 7282 2007