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  3. Network Rail health and safety breach takes seven years to reach court

A case involving the electrocution of a Network Rail employee has finally reached court, seven years after it occurred.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how David McDermott had received "catastrophic injuries" while undertaking the repair of a line running overhead close to Ardrossan South Beach rail station. The incident occurred in 2009, but due to delays with statements and the involvement of various agents, the case has only just reached court.

McDermott had been working with a colleague in a mobile platform, repairing a specific section of cable. Whilst carrying out the repair, he caught a live wire and received a 25,000 volt shock. He sustained serious injuries which resulted in many years of surgery and significant function loss. According to Sheriff Alistair Watson, the injuries suffered by McDermott were such that he continues to suffer.

The court heard how crews had been provided with work diagrams that were described as "hopelessly inaccurate". Network Rail admitted that it had failed to provide accurate documentation for safe working and also making sure that work was only conducted on specific areas of the line. The company has been fined £130,000, and has since made significant improvements to the working systems.

The sheriff said that although the incident may not have been inevitable, it was highly likely that the incident would have occurred eventually. Although the use of workwear and PPE is crucial for many occupations, it should be combined with a strategic safety plan to ensure a worker's safety.

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