January 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers
It concerns a reporter that operations staff (MOMs) are not required to submit a "buried services search‟ when breaking ground, where as other staff are. A buried services search is submitted to a specialist team in York, who will check with utility companies and other sources whether there is anything of consequence buried in the area.
MOMs have been tasked with installing information signs at all access points on the Midland Mainline between London and Derby, which involves digging holes for posts. MOMs have been instructed to carry out a CAT scan of the ground before digging, but they are not required to submit a buried services search, whereas maintenance and P/WAY staff are. The reporter states that CAT scans might not detect everything buried in the ground, putting staff at risk of hitting live wires or cables which could cause electrocution or serious burns. This is possibly a nationwide issue.
The reporter would like to know: why MOMs are not required to carry out the same safety checks as other staff, even though they are carrying out the exact same task; and if Network Rail considers it safe to only carry out a CAT scan before breaking ground?
Network Rail thanks the reporter for advising CIRAS of their concerns. Following the report all work on installing access point safety signage has been temporarily suspended while a review of the project is undertaken.
Network Rail company procedure NR/L3/MTC/SE0113
"Surface and Buried services - Avoidance of damage to and danger
from" requires that prior to any work commencing, enquiries shall
be made to all potential services owners to obtain available
information and/or plans that indicate the positions of buried
This places a requirement on the work planner to apply to the Buried Services Investigator for this information but local knowledge to identify any new or previous unrecorded services likely to give rise to risk within the area should also be sourced including documents such as the Hazard Directory.
However, on occasion there may be the necessity to carry out ground disturbance that is not planned. Before work of this nature is started, the team on site shall have knowledge of the procedure (NR/L3/MTC/SE0113); possess the competencies in the use of cable avoiding tools (CAT scanner), and risk assessment and method statement preparation. In this case there are additional requirements to complete site surveys which need to be documented on the appropriate forms.
There will also be many cases when the utility companies have not been able to provide full information on their services or the results from the onsite survey are inconclusive. Again in this case the procedure allows for hand dug trenches to be created in addition to CAT survey. The responsible planner for the excavation shall then decide on the extent and need for trail trenches based on depth, method of excavation and likelihood of services in the vicinity.
It should be noted that employees undertaking any roles and responsibilities for activities requiring ground disturbance should be familiar with and work to the requirements of Network Rail company procedure NR/L3/MTC/SE0113 "Surface and Buried services - Avoidance of damage to and danger from".