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A safety net when all else fails

40823 Training and competency of lookouts

March 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers

tagged Rules and procedures Training and briefing Communication and teamwork South East

A reporter has highlighted concerns about insufficient track experience newly trained lookouts possess along the western Paddington-Acton route.

The reporter is aware of some agencies training office-based staff, who hold PTS, as lookouts. A COSS may not have any knowledge on how much track experience these lookouts have and are therefore being extra vigilant to avoid near misses. The reporter wonders if this could have been a cause for the rise in near misses reported earlier in the year.

The reporter highlights a standard set by Network Rail - "NR/L2/CTM/021, [issue 2, page 12]‟ - to be a lookout, staff need only a PTS and to be a minimum of 18 years old. The reporter worries that there are no requirements for track experience in red or green zones before staff can commence lookout duties.

The reporter would like to see the standards reviewed to mandate an appropriate minimum requirement period of track experience for lookouts.

Please comment.

Response from Network Rail

Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for raising the above concern regarding the training and competency of lookouts. Safety is a highly important issue for Network Rail.

To act as a lookout a person must be assessed as competent and carry out the role on a regular basis to maintain the competence. The occasions the lookout carries out the duties are recorded in a work experience book.

If the controller of site safety (COSS) has any doubts over the lookout‟s experience or competence they can delay or stop the work and then select another certified competent person to act as the lookout.

The COSS is required to continually monitor the safe system of work being used and make the necessary changes to the safe system as appropriate.

The standard NR/L2/CTM/021 is due to be reviewed, starting in December 2009. The standard will be reviewed by industry experts with the competencies covered within the standard and the concerns raised by the reporter will be discussed as part of that review process.

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