August 2009 in Freight Operations
Last minute changes to base rosters at GB Railfreight resulting in fatigue and non compliance with the fatigue index is a concern for one reporter.
According to the reporter the base rosters are constantly being changed at very short notice. This is resulting in staff working several consecutive weeks of night shifts causing fatigue amongst staff, as well as affecting their family life. With the constant changes to the base rosters, the reporter feels that they no longer comply with the fatigue index. However, the reporter is keen to state that staff are still getting their appropriate rest days.
The reporter would like to highlight that fatigue could result in a safety related incident, such as a SPAD. There has apparently been a fatigue related incident in the past and as a result the reporter states that several recommendations were made.
The reporter believes that these recommendations are now being breached.
In order to resolve the issues, the reporter suggests that the base rosters for GB Railfreight should not be altered. If this is not possible on occasion, the reporter requests that change of shifts should be optional for staff and that a suitable notice period be given to staff affected.
Response from GB Railfreight
All of FGBRf base rosters are validated against the RSSB Fatigue Index prior to implementation.
FGBRf base rosters are changed only on the occasion of new staff arriving at a location, or there being a significant change to the workload at that location. This is standard practice throughout the industry. When the need to change our base rosters arises, we always publish the proposals to all staff concerned and welcome any feedback, which is then considered, before the final implementation. Following the implementation, staff are free to "claim" any rest days from the previous roster pattern, by mutually agreeing where they are to be moved from in the new roster.
The 'recommendations' as listed are incorrect and are as follows:
These constraints placed on rostering practices are in fact voluntary and did not arise as a result of any post incident recommendations. The measures were discussed and agreed by the Operations Executive Group as it was felt that we should give our staff as much as assistance as possible in managing their work/life balance. Their introduction is part of our continued commitment to effectively manage the potential for fatigue and in several instances the processes we follow have been externally verified, with confirmation received that they are an effective measure.
The introduction of these measures has received a widespread welcome and adherence to these guidelines is strictly monitored by the management team.