Kensal Green OHL Incident - Level 3 Investigation Report

Our Ref: HSR/2/5
Head Office Circular: NP/193/21
3rd June 2021
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


RMT Lead Representative attended the Level 3 Investigation into the Overhead Line (OHL) incident which occurred on Christmas Day 2019 at Kensal Green, Paddington. The incident occurred when a member of the contract OHL staff came into contact with Live OHL Equipment energised to 25000 volts. The individual concerned fortunately escaped with his life but has suffered 60 degree burns as consequence. He was released from hospital on 18th February, 2020, but has suffered life changing injuries.

The main concerns for members’ safety going forward expressed by your Lead Representative are as follows:

1. Test Before Touch
2. Non face to face meetings (briefings supposed to be provided via correspondence are not happening)
3. Earthing Assistants (not trained to Appointed Person [AP] as a minimum)
4. Multiple Form C issuing
5. Special Arrangements as per Green Book 5
6. OHL Machine Controllers/Operatives not being APs to Test Before Touch purposes
7. Mobile Operations Managers and APs not testing as appropriate
8. Diluted Contractors Procedures

There was yet another electric shock incident a few weeks ago, which has left one of our colleagues with life threatening injuries. With the information I have at this time it would appear there are striking similarities to the Kensal Green incident above.

Your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 25th May, noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:

We note the correspondence on file from the Lead Representatives and thank Lead Rep Carlo Pezzulo for his work in this matter.

The General Secretary is instructed to write to Network Rail outlining RMT’s concerns about the alarming shortcomings of the current arrangements and the safety of our members going forward as containing within the Lead Rep’s report.

The General Secretary is further instructed also to raise concerns about the widespread use of subcontract labour which may have been a factor in both the Kensal Green and Wolverton incidents and to inform NR of our Union’s position that in-sourcing of this work will be both safer and more efficient.

The General Secretary is also instructed to demand an urgent meeting with the company to seek immediate improvements in procedures and arrangements and the stringent application of safe systems of work which are agreed with this Union. Failure to act by Network Rail will create a dispute with this Union.

The General Secretary is further instructed to advise the company of our withdrawal from all OHL workstreams until they are prepared to meet with a real intention of change.

Branches and Regional Councils to be advised.

I am acting in accordance with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary