Nexus, operators of Tyne and Wear Metro, have been fined £1.5 million after they pleaded guilty to breaking rules under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Back in July 2014 at Nexus’ South Gosforth depot, Mr John Bell suffered fatal injuries while working.
At the time of the incident, Mr Bell was working on high voltage overhead cables at height. To his knowledge, a cable he was working on had been isolated, which was in fact live. He was electrocuted and died from injuries sustained.
In its investigation, industry regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found safety-critical procedures were ignored, and some continued for a substantial period after Mr Bell’s death.
The Office of Rail and Road noted the following issues:
- Failures to allow work to be carried out without the appropriate instructions for staff to prevent injury
- Lack of required safety-critical permits on some work
- ‘live line working’ policy was unfit for purpose – most notably failure to include a requirement for staff to test all electrical wires before carrying out work.
Nexus agreed the failures involved were a significant cause of the death of Mr Bell.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways at ORR Ian Prosser CBE said: “Nexus’ working practices were poor and continued so for a long time. This meant Nexus did not have the right measures in place to assess whether the Metro was being maintained safely.
“It is a fundamental safety requirement to test electrical equipment before any work takes place, but the failure to review and monitor safety-critical systems meant that lessons were not learned.
“This sadly contributed to the events which caused the death of Mr Bell. Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Mr Bell and I hope this result brings them some peace.”
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