May 2012 in Train Operations
A reporter is concerned about the quality of 'off-train' Conductor training undertaken over the past year in the Manchester area. This training was originally designed to complement 'on-train' training which dealt with operational issues such as door opening.
In the past, 'off train' training took place in the classroom, was instructor-led and had a broader safety scope involvingRule Bookissues, new operational standards and the discussion of relevant safety incidents. Last year, instead of providing the standard training, actors were drafted in to role play certain scenarios faced by Conductors at work. The reporter feels that this scenario-based training was not as educational or useful as the original classroom based training.
Could Northern Rail:
Response from Northern Rail
Northern's safety briefing for Train Crew is built around two half-year off-train safety briefs, supplemented by two on-train safety briefs. The off-train safety briefs are developed for each six-monthly briefing cycle to reflect current safety issues relevant to the grade of Drivers or Conductors being addressed.
The role of a Conductor is only partly about operational safety, with customer service also being important. In addition, occupational safety is important to all staff. We generally focus the safety briefs on operational and occupational safety, but will allow up to a maximum of two hours to be used for other relevant briefing - for example,Disability Discrimination Acttraining.
For Conductors, a significant safety risk associated with their role is that of assaults. In 2009 we decided that one of the most effective ways of helping to reduce the level of physical assaults on Conductors was to train them in conflict avoidance skills. Consequently, we developed an innovative form of conflict avoidance training called 'Stay Safe'. This used actors to create realistic scenarios to enable Conductors to understand how they would feel in a threatening situation, and to coach them on developing techniques to manage their own response in diffusing situations.
This training was considered to be an important initiative to improve Conductor safety and we developed a two-year program to train all our Conductors. It was agreed with the Conductors Employee Council to dedicate the first half year off-train safety brief in 2010 and 2011 to carrying out this training. In general, it has been very well received by Conductors and has led to a reduction in the level of assaults in the last two years. For 2012 the 'Stay Safe' training is being extended to Station and Platform Staff.
Following the first half-year brief, which was dedicated to this 'Stay Safe' training, the second half year briefs were focused on safety issues.
The current Conductor safety brief (Q1 and 2, 2012) contains the following briefing topics:
We believe this to be adequately focused on safety, taking into account the nature of a Conductor's role.