Original article from Kent Live
Network Rail has admitted its failure to properly maintain a substation caused a fire which seriously injured a worker.
The organisation was ordered to pay £696,666 after pleading guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act, following the incident at the Godinton substation in Ashford.
The incident in question at the end of 2018, leaving the employee with third degree and "mixed depth burns".
The fire itself was caused by repeated failures to fix water leaks and maintain dehumidifiers at the substation, leading to excess moisture.
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The investigation, carried out by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found that conditions in the substation were unsafe, and these failings led to an electrical arc and fire breaking out whilst employees worked.
In addition to the near £700,000 fine issued by Folkestone Magistrates Court, Network Rail has also been ordered to pay a further £33,647.45 in costs.
'Like a sauna'
The conditions inside the substation were described as being "like a sauna," in a ruling that found Network Rail of "not adequately identifying]the dangers of working near to live equipment in damp conditions."
Aside from the injuries to Network Rail employees, the fire caused massive delays, leading to a total closure of mainline and high-speed rail services in the area, and left many stranded.
The fine was passed by District Judge Barron at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, following ORR’s prosecution.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser CBE, said: “This case highlights the importance of acting to reduce or eliminate known risks at an early stage.
“Network Rail knew of the water leak at Godinton for nine months and despite concerns raised by staff and contractors, the required work was repeatedly delayed.
“This was a known risk and the failure to deal with it effectively led to staff working in unsafe conditions, resulting in serious injuries to one employee. This case reinforces the importance of acting effectively on known concerns to protect the health and safety of employees on Britain’s railway.”
District Judge Barron expanded on these comments, stating that the system of work in place at the time was not robust enough.
He continued that Network Rail's training procedures for technicians did not adequately warn them of the dangers of working in damp conditions.