Our Ref: HSR/2/5
Head Office Circular: NP/120/20
22nd May 2020
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


RMT have for some years been expressing concern around equipment that is designed to establish whether high voltage equipment has been successfully de-energised and is safe to be worked on. While the company has to some degree recognised our concerns they have been particularly slow in addressing them.

Now, following an incident near Leeds recently involving an HVD03/2D Live Line Indicator (LLI). The LLI indicated a section of overhead line equipment (OLE) was de-energised when it was in fact still live. The LLI was being used for section proving on equipment that was expected to be live. But the LLI displayed a green aspect that was falsely indicating the equipment was de-energised. Network Rail claim the equipment was being used incorrectly by the operator but RMT do not know if this is the case. Whatever the outcome of the company’s investigation it is not enough to point the finger of blame at individual workers. This is a system failure not a human failure.

What is certain to RMT is that there are grave concerns about the accuracy of the readings these devices can give in some circumstance and therefore a risk of a high voltage electrocution of workers engaged in activity with Network Rail’s high voltage equipment.

Since the incident at Leeds this matter has been discussed at a senior level with the company and there has finally been a recognition that action needs to be taken but the proposed timescales are not acceptable to the RMT. Action needs to be taken and taken quickly in order to protect our members.

A report on this case has been placed in front of the National Executive Committee who, at their meeting of 22nd May 2020, noted and adopted the following report of their Health and Safety Sub-committee:

We note the report on file with grave concern. This issue have been raised with the company by our representative over an unacceptably long period. We note that alternative equipment will not be available for a period as long as six months and that this is unacceptable to this Union. In the meantime the company is proposing a working party to look into mitigations that can be put in place to protect workers.

General Secretary is instructed to raise our concerns with the company. Specifically the following points:

• The work of the working party must be completed with solutions established by Friday 14th August 2020.
• Where possible HVD03/2D LLI must be replaced by other Live Line Indicator equipment currently in Network Rail’s possession.
• Alternative sources of these other Live Line Indicator equipment should be sourced and purchased as a priority.
• Network Rail’s timetable to replace this equipment with new equipment is unacceptably long and should be done to an enhanced timetable.
• A simplified work instruction must be issued immediately.
• The Worksafe Procedure remains an option for any member to record their concerns with the company.

Failure to comply with any of these points will result in a dispute situation between this Union and Network Rail

General Secretary further instructed to raise our concerns with ORR as a matter of priority.

Branches and Regional Councils be advised. RMT members in the Overhead Line Equipment and Plant and Distribution disciplines to be advised by e-mail and text.

I shall be writing to the company as instructed and I will keep you advised of any further developments. Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary