July 2012 in Train Operations
A reporter is concerned by working patterns and travel times at Lorne Stewart. Staffs are required to carry out general station maintenance work locally in the Liverpool area, as well as in the south west for First Great Western.
Though the average working week is 40 hours, with overtime staff can work up to 80 hours. The reporter is concerned that there does not appear to be a limit on the number of consecutive shifts it is possible for workers to do. Also, it can be difficult to obtain enough sleep between shifts where an early morning finish is followed only a few hours later with another shift.
Some staff may clock up several hundred miles of travel working on several different sites within the space of 24 hours. The reporter says all these factors can cause fatigue and put individuals in danger.
The reporter would like to know if Lorne Stewart issue any guidance on:
• The maximum number of hours a member of staff can work in a week (including overtime)?
• The maximum number of consecutive shifts that can be worked?
• Limits to the amount of travelling staff can be expected to do in a single day?
Response from Lorne Stewart PLC
Following the receipt of this report, Lorne Stewart consulted with the senior Manager, Engineering Managers for each rail region, and the Lorne Stewart Services Compliance Manager. Each Manager was surprised and concerned about the issues raised in this report, and were unified in supporting an investigation. They will be given copies of this report and briefed on any improvements that may be necessary as a result of any finding.
Lorne Stewart contracts their operational employees to a 40 hour working week in line with theEuropean Working Time Directive. However, due to callout commitments and the fluid nature of many of our tasks, this can be exceeded by overtime and callout commitments. To ensure the safety of their employees, and to allow compliance with the Achilles Link-up accreditation, Lorne Stewart maintain working schedules that fall well within the requirements of theRailway Group Standard/Network Rail Safety Critical Railway Operational (Working Hours). Managers, Supervisors and employees are aware of and are regularly briefed on these requirements including the need for managed rest breaks to prevent fatigue to workers.
This is monitored and achieved by the following:
• Procedures are documented and communicated to Managers and staff.
• Close supervision of overtime requests by both Supervisors and Managers.
• All Managers and employees briefed on the working time requirements.
• Our policies and processes are subject to internal and external audit and we have been Achilles Link-up approved since 1999.
• Electronic based working time monitoring system.
• Regular training on the requirements of lone and mobile working (outlines hazards from fatigue and controls required).
• Managers all IOSH managing safety trained.
Lorne Stewart, realising that driving is one of our greater risks due to the mobile elements of our business, has a robust policy on driving at work. All staff are familiar with this policy and a signed acknowledgement has been received from all employees. Regular mobile work training is completed, supported by Rail Sector Brief. All vehicles have a tracker which is monitored by the Customer Service Support (CSS) centre and Contract Managers. When Lorne Stewart originally took over the rail contracts, it was realised that due to callouts and specific trade specialties, some Engineers were exceeding recommended mileage. To eliminate excessive driving hours the Engineering Manager has regional Engineers who now look after a smaller footfall, thus reducing driving hours to a minimum. The CSS, who monitor tasks and callouts, are aware of Engineer's locations and will ensure only regional Engineers will be tasked within the specified areas. All Engineers have been informed (during training) that if they are too fatigued to drive they can inform the Supervisor who will ensure other arrangements are made. Upon speaking with Engineers and Supervisors it is clear this has happened in the past.
Due to their role within the rail industry Lorne Stewart Engineers do not work within the confines of safety critical work in general. However, working times and driving hours are taken very seriously at all management levels. It is apparent from studying the trackers and work schedule database, that Engineers are expected to and do work more than the specified 40 hour week (all have signed 'opt out regulation 4' forms). However no evidence was found that any employees have exceeded the 72 hour rule over a normal working week. The maximum hours found was one case of 74 hours in a 7 day week followed by 2 days off and 64 hours in a 6 day week followed by 2 days off. No Drivers had exceeded the maximum driving distance outlined within our policy.
Recommendations have been made that Managers re-brief their Supervisors and employees on the need to monitor working hours and driving time as well as enforcing the need to investigate, report and reduce any work load that could lead to fatigue or breaches of the recommended standards. Also proactive additional checks will be completed by the Administrative Staff to inform management in a timely manner of any possible excesses in both working time and driving hours.