March 2010 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter is concerned about two-man teams working in separated green zones without the presence of a site warden.
In particular, this method of working is perceived as unsafe for doing certain types of Signalling and Telecommunications (S&T) work. The standard reply when this issue is raised at a local level is that the "Worksafe Procedure‟ can be invoked, but this is actually quite difficult to do in practice.
The Rule Book permits such work to take place without a site warden as long as there are only two men, stipulating only that the COSS should take the type of the work into consideration. The reporter accepts that there are some tasks that can be done by a two-man team. But he would like some clarification regarding types of work that require the presence of a site warden.
In relation to S&T work involving points and cables, for example, the reporter says that site wardens can perform an important role in controlling the risks. Cable connections may be in the six foot, and it is surprisingly easy - especially at busy locations - to stray outside the outer limits of the green zone and onto a running line.
If present, a site warden would guard against this happening. In fact, if there were three people working in this way in a separated green zone, the Rule Book stipulates that a site warden should be present; why is it any different when there are two? They are exposed to the same risks. The reporter would like to know:
Network Rail would like to thank the reporter for bringing their concerns to our attention. To hopefully help clarify the situation, when a COSS is deciding whether to appoint a site warden the number of staff in the team should not be a factor. The concern of the COSS should always be on how to separate their team from trains. The task being performed is taken into consideration by the COSS for any risks of encroachment but it should not be the deciding factor in his selection of site safety arrangements. The appointment of a site warden should not be task based. It needs to be based on how to adequately protect the team from trains. However we would ask the reporter to note that under conditions of two men on-site, one can be the COSS and site warden combined or one can be the COSS and the other site warden, or indeed one can be the COSS and the other the lookout. In these circumstances only one person can work. The vast majority of signalling 'non-point' tasks can be carried out by one person.
In the instance quoted (cable connections in the six foot), it is not permissible to work separated green zone with one road open to traffic and a different SSOW is required, which could possibly be red zone with one person working and the COSS acting as a lookout. If the reporter is intimating that cables in the six foot may tempt someone to stray outside the safe limits, this may be true but we rely on our employees to show professionalism, to be alert on the track and follow the SSOW set up by their COSS. Plus the COSS is relied upon to monitor that the SSOW stated in the Rule Book is being adhered to.
If you believe that you are being asked to work in an unsafe manner or that the site safety arrangements are insufficient then you must refuse to work on the grounds of health and safety and invoke the "Worksafe Procedure‟. If you do not, you may be putting others, as well as yourself, at risk.
With regards to 'what type of S&T work can be carried out', the rule states that there must be at least a distance of two metres between the site and the nearest rail of a line open to movements. It does not specify what work may or may not take place within that site of work. Therefore any work that involves more than two people will require a site warden.