May 2012 in Network Rail and Suppliers
After a reorganisation at the depot Machine Operators are now expected to carry out fuel duties which involves filling up fuel bowsers, transporting them to site and then filling up machines. The reporter is concerned that staff have not been briefed about the task and to date have not received any information about the filling limits of the bowsers, the driving techniques required when transporting heavy flammable loads and how to deal with spillages. At the moment, Operators are learning about how to conduct these new duties via word-of-mouth rather than officially. The reporter is only aware of one member of staff attending a spillage course.
Response from Colas Rail
Colas Rail would like to thank the reporter for bringing their concerns to our attention.
Earlier this year Colas took the decision not to replace their 12,000 litre heavy goods vehicle fuel bowser and to instead examine alternative methods of delivering fuel to on-track machines on the infrastructure. Initially a purpose designed fuel pod mounted on the back of a flat-bed pick up type vehicle was used. The issue with this arrangement was that if the pod was filled to its maximum capacity of 1000 litres, this would be over the maximum carrying capacity of the vehicle and, through test weighing, it was established that three quarters full was the maximum possible capacity to remain below the weight limit for the pickup. This was clearly marked externally and near to the level gauge on the 'pod' and was explained to the Drivers. This was a temporary solution until two purpose made bowsers were delivered which could be filled to capacity without overloading the vehicle; these two vehicles are now in use.
Behavioural based safety observations have been carried out on both arrangements. On the initial vehicle, issues were identified and resolved and on the purpose made vehicles none were identified, these observations were carried out by trained Observers.
The bowser Drivers all have experience of how to deal with spills as they have operated and maintained on-track machines for a number of years. In addition to this, all Operators refuel on-track machines at the central depot location on a regular basis.
A robust staff instruction and training pack has now been designed and is being provided to each Driver along with practical demonstrations and briefings on the operating procedures, hazards, risks and emergency procedures associated with the operation. This is delivered by a qualified Trainer and Assessor.
Seventeen individuals have attended an oil spill training day delivered by an external training provider in June 2011. This course also raised the Driver's awareness of aspects of AccorD european Realtif although the capacity of the tank is below 1000l. Additional courses are being organised for other staff who are likely to drive these vehicles as well.
Currently we are researching a suitable defensive driving course which will be delivered to all bowser Drivers. It is anticipated that this will be delivered before the year end to all bowser Drivers, and although fire awareness training is provided to all employees on an annual basis, this training will be included in the bowser Drivers' instruction and training pack.