January 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter has contacted CIRAS with numerous concerns relating to unsafe practices occurring at Ebbsfleet International station.
The first issue of concern for the reporter is that workers are required to use tools and equipment with insufficient training. Incorrect usage of equipment could potentially be fatal. Additionally, the reporter is concerned about the misuse of tools by some workers. The reporter notes that some equipment has not been used for the correct job.
Instances where tools and machinery are maltreated by some workers are also a point of concern for the reporter. In addition to being abused, the reporter has highlighted that some equipment has been used for the wrong jobs.
Another matter of safety involves not adhering to rules and regulations. For example, when told to load material into bags, or lift bricks, workers are disregarding guidelines and putting their own personal safety at risk.
The reporter is concerned about the lack of safety precaution taken by staff at this station and feels that this stems from a general lack of safety awareness and active implementation of health and safety guidelines. If the appropriate safety practices required on the site are not executed, the reporter feels it could result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Is Network Rail aware of these unsafe practices occurring at Ebbsfleet? Could Network Rail investigate the problem and resolve the issues raised in this report?
Network Rail takes such matters very seriously and we appreciate the reporters concerns. There would appear to be two principle issues, one where the workforce are being asked to use tools when insufficient training has been given by the employer. This is in breach of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which places a clear duty on the employer to provide sufficient training, information and instruction to employees.
The other concern is that individuals are placing themselves and others at risk by not following specific instructions given to them.
The Network Rail Works Package Plan Process (WPP) appears in this case to have been ignored with regard to risk assessments and controls for use of tools and for disregarding the details and instructions contained in the Task Briefing Sheet (TBS). Network Rail continually monitors quality of WPPs and TBSs and challenge as necessary. This specific case has not been previously raised though if more site specific details are provided then we will certainly challenge the company and individuals involved.
September 2009 Update
Proactive inspections have increased since April 09 in this area; to review the methods for both work, and training.