August 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
The reporter believes these issues are occurring due to inadequate PTS training provided to new staff and it is felt that new staff could be endangering their own safety and that of their colleagues.
Could Prima Services Group:
Response from Prima Services Group
Two day PTS course
Network Rail mandate the basic two day PTS course for all workers on or near the line. Staff are also categorised as PTS Labour (those who hold only the two day PTS) and skilled Track Workers (those who have passed the track induction course or have 'grandfather rights'). Our clients, including Network Rail, order both grades of staff from us and as such these PTS Labourers are properly qualified for the tasks they are permitted to undertake.
"PTS Labourers are properly qualified for the tasks they are permitted to undertake."
Adopting bad habits
PTS Labourers should not be undertaking Track Worker duties, for example permanent way maintenance or renewals. If they are handling sleepers as part of PTS Labour duties they are given a task briefing at the beginning of the shift at which time they will be briefed on the correct use of any tools, manual handling operations, any machines on track and train movements. The Controller of Site Safety (COSS)/Ganger will ensure they understand this briefing before they are allowed to start work.
The two day PTS course covers very thoroughly safe behaviour on site, specifically walking to, from or around a site, place of safety etc... All Prima staff including Labourers are tested on their awareness of basic track safety before we approve them for sponsorship.
All staff at Prima, who are new to the railway, wear blue hard hats until they have been assessed as competent by a Track or Training Manager without exception. Our COSS/Ganger checks that all staff have full personal protective equipment in good condition before starting their shift and would not allow a 'blue hatter' to work on site unless they were properly equipped. Our Site Managers make several site visits every week to spot check that this is adhered to. Staff with blue hats are supplied in a minimum ratio of 1:5 so that they can be guided, advised and mentored by our experienced Operatives.
Prima offer the two day PTS course to new entrants as an entry level qualification and carefully monitor these staff. This allows us to provide PTS Labourers to our clients. Some Operatives do not wish to take the track induction course and choose to remain as PTS Labourers. The track induction course is offered to staff who wish to move forward to skilled Track Workers and have been assessed by Prima Managers as competent to do so.
The safety of our Operatives and their responsibility for the safety of all people on their site of work is the number one priority for Prima Services. We actively support several safety initiatives including Balfour Beatty's 'Zero Harm', Atkins 'Safe by Choice' and Network Rail's 'Close Call Reporting' and welcome any information or reports that can contribute to our drive for continuous improvement in the provision of a safe working environment.