February 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
Health and safety issues on a Carillion work site at Mile End concerns one reporter. According to the reporter, there were numerous problems on site which were exacerbated by the adverse weather conditions.
Staff not given breaks. Staff were on site for 12 hours, in temperatures below freezing, and were not provided with a break during their shift. This resulted in staff eating whilst on track and being unable to step away from the work site to make themselves hot food or drinks. The reporter is concerned that this could affect concentration and result in an incident.
Toilet facilities. There were only three
toilets on site which the reporter did not feel was sufficient to
cater for the 60 staff using them. Also, due to the adverse weather
conditions the toilets became frozen and no longer flushed.
No running water. Due to the freezing temperatures there was no running water on site which prevented staff from washing their hands after using the toilet and before eating food.
Travelling time. The length of time spent travelling to and from the work site, on top of working a 12 hour shift, is also a concern for the reporter. Apparently several staff were commuting between three to four hours to get to and from the work site. This resulted in a 16-17 hour day for the staff affected. However, staff felt unable to tell the Supervisor in case they were denied access to the work site. The reporter is concerned that fatigue could set in and result in an accident.
The reporter suggests that Carillion consider:
Staff not given breaks. We have investigated the specifics associated with these concerns and confirm that breaks are pre-planned into the works schedule. However, in this type of work, breaks are taken at the opportune moment (machine downtime) and in any case within the first five hours of work. Our investigation showed that breaks had been taken by some personnel. This reporter's concerns were not raised to our site management at the time nor subsequently, however since receipt of this report we have re-briefed our Supervisors in control of the works the necessity to ensure breaks are taken.
Toilet facilities. This was noted by the site management at the time and the workforce was subsequently reduced. However, at the time of the report, the site was experiencing exceptionally cold adverse weather conditions. We provided chemical toilets for such an emergency as a 'stand-by arrangement'. We have subsequently reviewed our welfare provisions and actioned a wholesale welfare plan to address such conditions, which has worked effectively since this event. A dedicated Logistics and Welfare Manager has now been appointed to this project to ensure full compliance.
No running water. This was noted by the site management and bottled water was immediately made available as a short term measure. At the time of the report the site was experiencing exceptionally cold adverse weather conditions. As a consequence we provided GARICK mobile welfare vans which included the facility of hot running water.
Travelling time. Site works are planned to ensure compliance with the 14 hour 'door-to-door' policy. Shift times are reduced to a minimum and any Operatives working for 12 hours are not expected to travel more than a maximum 1 hour to site. Suppliers and personnel are briefed on this policy. It is also the responsibility of the individual's employer to ensure compliance.
Had it been noted that subcontract or 'agency supplied' individuals where travelling in excess of the 14 hour policy they would have been advised to reduce their working hours on site to accommodate their travelling arrangements and/or advised to make hotel arrangements.
We have implemented (via our signing in process) rigorous checking that compliance is attained. In addition, written confirmation is requested by the employers prior to the weekend's activities that all personnel are compliant with site rules such as these.
Under exceptional circumstances where staff are required to exceed 12 hours on site, the activity is risk assessed and authorised by completion of an on site exceedances form or alternative arrangements made. All exceedances are recorded within the key performance indicators process.