February 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
Staff attending training courses in the evening between working shifts, concerns one reporter.
The reporter has recently experienced a situation where attending a training course in the evening, after working a day shift, resulted in very little rest before having to start another shift the following day. Attending the course, along with travelling times of between one to two hours, left staff feeling tired.
Working and attending courses between shifts is seen by the
reporter as unsafe, since it results in staff feeling fatigued
whilst they are at work and creates the risk an accident whilst
travelling to and from the work site.
If staff will be attending courses regularly throughout the year, the reporter would like Morson Wynnwith to look at the possibility of:
The above CIRAS report relates to the recent Network Rail workers' briefings and knowledge tests. Network Rail introduced a revised issue (issue 8) of the Network Rail Standard NR/L2/OHS/019, The Safety of People Working on or Near the Line. This contained changes to working practices that Network Rail felt required a standard brief and subsequent knowledge test. The timeframe to deliver this briefing and test programme was tight in our opinion and time to implement it was limited.
The Morson Rail management team devised a strategy to deliver this programme throughout the UK and duly delivered the briefings. The method of delivery was as follows.
The rail team at Morson always endeavour to accommodate the working patterns of the multi-sponsored, itinerant agency worker with regards to arranging training courses around their planned work.
Under normal circumstances all training is conducted during the day and the agency worker takes time off work to attend the training courses so as to not violate the company's working hours policy and procedure.
In the case of the NR/L2/OHS/019 briefings and skills test, most courses were conducted during the daytime but some courses were arranged in the evening as they were of short duration and the evening commencement time eliminated parking and congestion charges for the agency workers.
Most agency workers were offered a variety of dates to choose
from initially, but those unable to attend the majority of the
dates, or who dropped out of a confirmed booking, were given less
choice as the deadline approached.
A proportion of the agency workers work full time and others do not and some of the agency workers in question requested a day off work on the day of the briefings.
However, the whole programme was disrupted due to the inclement weather at the end of November and the beginning of December. This poor weather badly disrupted the programme of planned events and courses had to be re-arranged at short notice much to the inconvenience of the agency workers affected. We duly apologise for the inconvenience caused but the timescale for compliance to the new rules was very tight and we didn't want the agency workers to lose their competencies as a result of them failing to attend the briefing and test session.
We value any feedback on our operation and regard it as a
valuable and intrinsic component of our Safety and Quality
Management Systems. We express disappointment that the individual
concerned felt unable to raise their concern directly with us
despite our best efforts to encourage reporting and feedback.
We believe that these were exceptional circumstances and certainly not the norm with regards to training courses for the agency workers. We received no complaints directly from the agency workers and the vast majority were grateful that we helped them maintain their certification in difficult conditions.
If this situation of Network Rail briefings and knowledge tests happens again then we will more closely observe the working patterns of the agency workers concerned in order to ensure that this situation does not re-occur.