August 2011 in Network Rail and Suppliers
A reporter has raised concerns about Site Wardens being requested to engage in work, despite this being against the rules. This happens on many sites for different companies.
TheRule Bookstates that a Controller of Site Safety (COSS) can work as part of group but a Site Warden cannot.Handbook 7 section 4.6states that"if you act as a Site Warden you must take no part in the actual work".
The reporter cites several instances of contractors insisting Track Workers carry out COSS duties whilst they are working as Site Wardens, although they are not allowed to do this. Track Workers feel pressurised to break the rules, even though they know that the safety of the work site could be compromised. According to the reporter, raising these safety concerns has resulted in not being asked to return to work, which in turn makes staff less likely to report important safety issues.
The reporter feels that safety is being compromised and would like Network Rail and its contractors to provide sufficient Track Workers for the roles required.
Could the companies:
Network Rail thanks the reporter for raising this issue.
Network Rail will raise this issue within our maintenance teams and assess the requirement for any programme of briefings. To avoid any confusion, please note the following clarification of these track safety competencies.
The reporter is correct that a Site Warden cannot take part in the actual work activity. Similarly a COSS acting as a Site Warden must take no part in the actual work.
When using a Safe System of Work (SSoW) using a Site Warden as perGE/RT/8000 Rule Book Handbook 7, section 4.6, a COSS will first be appointed by the employer to put in place pre-planned SSoW that is suitable for the planned work activity. Should this SSoW require Site Wardens, these will be appointed by the COSS. The COSS can also act as a Site Warden but cannot then be involved in the work. If a COSS cannot appoint enough competent Site Wardens as per the planned SSoW, then work should not commence and a suitable alternative SSoW put in place.
Should the reporter or any Track Worker feel forced or under pressure to do anything that they consider to be unsafe, they should immediately invoke theWorksafe Procedure, stop work and allow the circumstances found to be investigated.
"A Site Warden cannot take part in the actual work activity."
The reporter should be aware that COSS and Site Warden are not roles but Sentinel competencies, and as such an individual can hold multiple competencies. An individual can, as theRule Bookallows, carry out more than one competency at the same time. TheRule Bookdoes allow the COSS to act as a Site Warden, subject to the COSS not being involved in the actual work activity. Should anybody working on site feel that there are not enough competent people available to resource a pre-planned SSoW, then the individual should invoke theWorksafe Procedure (NR/L2/OHS/00112).
Thank you for highlighting the concerns raised above. Through our labour resourcing team and our Team Leaders we have reinforced that Site Wardens and Lookouts cannot undertake any other duties while they are carrying out these tasks. There are instances where Site Wardens or Lookouts are only required to undertake these duties for part of a shift, and will be asked to undertake other duties when not acting as a Lookout or Site Warden.
Balfour Beatty actively encourage staff to report any unsafe acts or conditions that they find on site.
Carillion Rail would like to thank the reporter for raising this issue. We understand the reporter's concerns with respect to Site Wardens potentially being asked to 'engage' in work activity as this is prohibited.
The Carillion Rail monthly Health, Safety, and Environment Advisor briefing contained an article reminding all rail staff of the rules governing Site Warden activity. An extract is given below:
"Please Note: GE/RT8000 - HB3 states: for Site Warden duties you must not take part in the actual work or carry out any other duties, unless you are also the COSS."
Carillion will continue to ensure, through its detailed planning process, that adequate Track Worker resources are allocated to implement and maintain the required safe system of work at all times
Osborne has taken this report very seriously. The Possession Planners have been briefed and they advise that there are always enough safety critical staff planned to undertake a shift of work. A briefing of all Osborne COSSs was undertaken on 25 July and 5 September 2011 reiterating the rules regarding Site Wardens whilst undertaking safety critical work. Our Possession Delivery Manager will, whilst out on site during possessions and protections, enforce these rules where they apply.
Awaiting response from Telent