Issued to: Network Rail line managers, safety professionals and accredited contractors
Ref: NRB22-03 Date of issue: 09/05/2022
Contact: Martin O’Connor Network Technical Head Contact Systems AC/DC, Technical Authority
The investigation into a worker’s severe burns at
Wolverton has revealed that there is uncertainty
across the industry about what is required by the
Test before Touch lifesaving rule on Overhead Line
The accident occurred in the early hours of 14th May
2021 when track renewal contractors were working
in a Network Rail managed engineering worksite at
Wolverton. The work group were checking and
adjusting the OLE to remove a temporary speed
The work group using a Mobile Elevating Work
Platform (MEWP) unknowingly strayed outside the
isolation. A linesperson touched the live OLE when
they used a tool to take a measurement and
received burns from an electric shock of up to 25kV.
The Test before Touch life saving rule must be
followed when working on or near OLE. Every time
before anyone works less than 600mm from the OLE
a test must be conducted or witnessed using an
approved voltage testing device. A new test is
required every time the work group moves past any
in-line feature such as a section insulator or changes
track. If in doubt, re-test.
The test must show that the OLE is switched off
before the work (re)starts.
Never rely only on the Reminder of Live Exposed
(RoLE) equipment alone. It is used at the OLE permit
(Form C) safe working limits but not always for
residual electrical hazards. And it is only a reminder
to check the OLE permit (Form C).