August 2007 in Network Rail and Suppliers
Track maintenance staff in Scotland discarding the old pandrol clips once removed from the track, in to the vegetation next to the track, is a concern for one reporter. The reporter is aware that this is a common and ongoing problem, which he/she feels is down to a cultural issue amongst track maintenance staff to just 'throw the pandrol clips over their shoulders' once they have removed them from the track.
According to the reporter, this poses a danger to staff carrying out vegetation maintenance as the pandrol clips get lodged and entwined in the branches and leaves, which makes them hard to see when surveillance is being carried out. If the pandrol clips are hidden amongst the vegetation and they are then passed through the chipper machines, they are shredded in to lumps of sharp metal which are then passed out of the in-feed/out-feed shoot at high speed. The reporter is concerned that this could result in a serious injury i.e. deep wounds or broken bones to staff working nearby if they were to be hit by the flying metal. The reporter fears that in the worst case scenario it could potentially result in a fatality.
The reporter would like Network Rail to undertake a programme whereby they monitor the amount of pandrol clips that are being replaced and the amount of old pandrol clips being returned/recycled, over a period of time. The reporter hopes that this may start to change behaviour within the track maintenance teams prompting them to remove the old pandrol clips from site. The reporter also states that the track maintenance teams could be instructed by Network Rail to bag them up or leave them in piles in the cess so they are more visible to the vegetation management teams.
The reporter would like to make Network Rail aware that this is not an issue isolated to just one particular maintenance team, but is perceived to be a widespread problem.
Response from Network Rail
The company developed aPermanent Way Instruction (RT/CE/PWS1/010)in November 2001 that pertained to the management of lineside materials and disposal requirements of the same. This was briefed to front line staff for inclusion into all maintenance activities.
The risk of foreign objects (such as pandrols) being chipped during vegetation operations is a risk but is uncommon in Scotland. Network Rail have received four such reports in the past three years. The resultant damage was caused to the chipper mechanisms with no staff or contractor injury.
Network Rail's contractors manage this risk as low as reasonably practicable by conducting training days for all their chipper operatives in line with Arboriculture and Forestry Advisory Group (AFAG) and theProvision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER)guidelines. These training days pertain to the safety of staff and the general operation of chippers during works.
The counting of track components "in and out of jobs" is deemed by the company as "an untenable task going forward" but maintain that thePermanent Way Instruction (RT/CE/PWS1/010)is the Driver for a clean lineside.
Looking ahead into next year's business plan, Network Rail maintenance intends to launch a new campaign within the business to raise the level of awareness within the industry for the management of lineside materials.