August 2009 in Network Rail and Suppliers
Contracting welders are carrying welding material in their vans which are over the van's legal limits, according to one reporter. Network Rail welders in the East Midlands area have recently been issued documentation to remind them that they are only allowed to carry enough material in their vans for four welds per shift.
The reporter questions why welders from contracting companies, such as Carillion and Welder Rail (who use Transit and Mercedes Sprinter vans respectively), carry material for six to eight welds when their vans have the same weight capacity as that of the Vauxhall Movano vans used by Network Rail welders. There is a concern here for public health and safety where vans are driving overweight to the work site.
For Carillion and Welder Rail:
For Network Rail:
Carillion/Sky Blue have been undertaking its own vigorous testing of vehicle weights and have put measures in place whereas no Carillion/Sky Blue welding vehicles will ever be over a maximum payload of 3500KG.
To achieve this Carillion/Sky Blue have implemented the following:
The following details show the weight of a converted Transit welding van
Remaining payload 1000 KG
Carillion/Sky Blue use 2 x welding processes Thermit SKV & Railtech PLA each supplying consumables with different weights.
The weight to undertake 6 x welds [both processes] are Thermit SKV 980 KG, Railtech PLA 922.53 KG.
Although each vehicle is working towards its upper limits it is still within the total payload limits set out by Ford and VOSA from whom we take advice.
Carillion/Sky Blue are constantly looking to reduce the weight carried by vehicles by seeking to utilise new lighter plant
To ensure that drivers are aware of their responsibilities Carillion/Sky Blue have embarked on an intensive Safedrive campaign for all drivers of LCV vehicles to NVQ L2 standards.
Due to the different types of vehicles use in the industry for carrying welding equipment Carillion/Sky Blue feel that it would be advisable that other companies also carry out their own vehicle weight testing.
1) Are Network Rail aware of this issue?
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for raising their concern; we are fully aware of the issue regarding overloading of welding vehicles. Last year we undertook a comprehensive exercise of weighing all equipment and consumables currently in use with the Movano vehicle for all welding processes and produced a list that was issued to all welding teams explaining exactly what should be carried to keep the vehicles under the legal weight limit.
2) Can Network Rail please comment on why they are hiring
contractors who drive vans that exceed their own safety policy on
company van weight limits?
It should be pointed out that contractors are not operating the same vehicles as Network Rail and although they have similar payloads to the Movano, the different materials that are used and the way that vehicles are fitted out, mean that some contractors are in a position to carry more equipment and consumables, so we are not comparing like with like.
However due to recent changes to welding processes which has included the introduction of new equipment and consumables, Network Rail have approached the companies concerned and advised them of the need to re-check payloads on their welding vehicles. As a result, Sky Blue vehicles are carrying more weight than they originally thought, but the vehicles are still under the maximum weight limit. Weld-A-Rail on the other hand, have now informed me that their vehicles exceed the maximum weight limit and have taken action with immediate effect to conform with legal requirements. This has led them to reducing the amount of welding consumables that they currently carry.