April 2011 in London Underground
Subcontracting staff working in close proximity to asbestos on the Victoria Line is a concern for one reporter.
Staff carrying out points and signalling work often undertake tasks within one or two centimetres of asbestos and are worried about the health effects related to disturbing it. The reporter comments that staff are required to remove and insert new cables into areas surrounded by asbestos. The work is carried out in confined spaces such as tunnels, interlocking machine rooms and signalling equipment rooms. The reporter would like to know:
Before any works commence the contractor or subcontractor must review the asbestos surveys and carry out a suitable risk assessment. Any requirement for PPE should be identified in the contractor's or subcontractor's risk assessment and method statement. If contractors or subcontractors are working near asbestos containing materials and there is the potential for their work to lead to the accidental disturbance of the asbestos then appropriate PPE would be disposable coveralls and disposable P3 dust masks. Only Health and Safety Executive licensed asbestos contractors are permitted to remove asbestos from any location on the underground. This is detailed within the LUL Control of Asbestos Procedure.
As long as the work carried out by the contractor or subcontractor does not disturb asbestos there is no risk - the contractor or subcontractor is working near asbestos and not with asbestos. As previously stated a suitable risk assessment should have taken place before works commence and any risk should be addressed in the contractor's/subcontractor's risk assessment and method statement. In addition to these controls LUL has arranged for a staged migration of subcontractor staff from the current entry permit system to the 'London Underground Combined Access System' (LUCAS) card certification, enabling LUL to monitor asbestos awareness training provision to supply chain personnel. This process has begun on the Victoria Line upgrade programme.