March 2010 in Freight Operations
A reporter has contacted CIRAS with numerous safety concerns
yards and fuel points in the Crewe, Ipswich, Leeds and Southampton areas.
The first concern surrounds the adverse weather conditions
currently affecting these locations. The reporter highlights that
walkways in the maintenance yards and fuel points are left
un-gritted, posing slip or fall hazards for staff. The reporter
would like to see all areas gritted, not just where work is carried
The second concern regards the reporter noticing that some fitters are being asked
to sign off safety critical work (for example, TPWS brakes) without the necessary
qualifications to do so. The reporter questions what qualifications are needed to sign off such work and suggests that Freightliner inspect that the fitters hold the
appropriate qualifications for the tasks they are carrying out.
Furthermore, the reporter would like to clarify how often drug and alcohol tests
should be carried out by an external body?
We note receipt of report 40920 the contents of which have been
comments invited from the management concerned.
Speaking on behalf of Freightliner Maintenance Limited, which have responsibility for the site at Midland Road, Leeds and the fuel point at Crewe, senior management advises that in adverse weather all main walking routes are gritted and regularly cleared of snow. Due to the nature of our business, staff can be required to attend locomotives and wagons to undertake repairs at many different locations within the sites and it is not practicable to treat all areas of a large location. During the recent cold weather a national shortage of gritting material meant prioritisation had to be considered when using a scarce material and areas of higher usage were concentrated on.
The management at Ipswich advise that the car park stairs and walkways to the
buildings were gritted, normally during the night shift. Areas like the routes down to the loco holdings that are on ballast will not be gritted. A salt bin and a small shovel can be found in the car park at Ipswich so that any person concerned about the state of the stairs or walkways could carry out additional gritting.
At Southampton we have a contract with a local gritting company
who proved to
have adequate supplies of grit during the recent cold spell to carry out the clearing
work contracted to do. During the inclement weather situation the terminal was
gritted at regular intervals, on some occasions several times a day. Areas that could not be reached by the gritting lorry were gritted manually by terminal management. These included areas highlighted by the local safety representatives.
With regards to comment on work being carried out by fitters,
only persons who have been assessed in accordance with
Freightliner Group standard MIE 0743
'Competency Policy and Assessment Procedure' and deemed competent are
permitted to sign off safety critical work. We are aware that in the past staff
competency has expired and in such circumstances staff have been instructed not to sign off safety critical work until they have been reassessed and deemed competent. This was raised with local management last year when it became apparent at one of our sites there was a non-conformance.
Freightliner Group's policy on drugs and alcohol is set in our
document PSD 0802
and is compliant with the requirements of the Transport and Works Act 1992, the
Railway Safety Critical Work Regulations 1994 and Railway Group Standard
GE/RT8070 - Drugs and Alcohol. All testing is carried out by a competent third party, currently we use BUPA Occupational Health. The standard states that random unannounced testing should be carried out annually on 10 per cent of relevant staff at a location. Within Freightliner Maintenance Limited 17 per cent of staff were randomly screened last year. I trust this information will be of assistance to the reporter.