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A safety net when all else fails

50010 Cleaners at risk from train movements in Dundee yard

May 2011 in Train Operations

tagged Knowledge Skills and experience Scotland

A reporter is concerned about the perceived lack of training and briefing for Cleaners who work at Dundee yard.

Cleaners have apparently not been provided with comprehensive training or briefing and do not hold Personal Track Safety (PTS) cards. Though they have been 'passed out' to work in the yard, efforts to raise safety awareness of train movements have involved a talk, a questionnaire and some laminated cards. The reporter views this as inadequate.

The Cleaners have been told that the Signaller does not have to be informed they are working in the yard. Drivers are not currently informed about their presence either. Though a mobile phone is issued for the purpose of monitoring staff working in the yard, it is felt that this does not address the lack of safety awareness.

In addition, the risk of a slip, trip or fall is heightened by the lack of lighting which has not been repaired for many months.

The reporter suggests safety at the yard could be improved. Could First ScotRail comment on:

  • Why PTS cards for Cleaners aren't necessary?
  • Whether training and briefing could be improved?
  • When the lighting will be repaired?

Response from First ScotRail

A risk assessment for the process of carriage cleaning at Dundee Sidings has been undertaken and control measures were identified as follows:

  • staff to be made aware of local hazards including the layout of the sidings;
  • familiarisation on the authorised walking route to be utilised within the sidings;
  • the means of providing and withdrawing protection whilst cleaning trains internally;
  • full briefing on the protection instructions applicable to Dundee sidings; and
  • tools, equipment and personal protective equipment required to be issued and worn by Carriage Cleaning Staff.

This training is then followed up by questioning staff involved in the process to ensure that they fully understand the arrangements that exist to ensure their safety whilst accessing and cleaning vehicles within the sidings.

The actual content of the training contains the applicable elements relative to Rule Book module T10 and is compiled in compliance with Group Standard GE/GN8511.
In essence, the training provided focuses on the characteristics of the specific location and risks present. This is followed by 'underpinning knowledge' questions which, if successfully answered, allows the member of staff to be issued with a 'Yard Safety Certificate' and is directly applicable to the location and scope of the work being undertaken.

Some elements from Personal Track Safety training courses for Operational Staff are not viewed as appropriate for staff engaged purely in the carriage cleaning process within a siding. Any superfluous training material could detract from the actual knowledge required for the scope of their work, containing information that would be largely irrelevant to the location where the actual work is carried out.
However, if the reporter has suggestions to improve the training previously provided then this could be considered. Perhaps the staff suggestion scheme may be an appropriate means even if used anonymously.

Records from 1 January 2009 to 1 May 2011 were checked and there was one defect reported on the 3 May 2011. It was found that one of the main lighting columns has been lowered by Network Rail due to issues with the base of the column and we are at present working to resolve this. In the meantime, we have asked for costs to provide additional lighting on a smaller column closer to where staff work.

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