Case studies, from cleaning trollies to lone working, feature in our Safety Spot column for Railnews' September 2020 issue.

You can read the article below.

If you spot something, report it – you might be the only one to see it, and no one needs to know it's you.

When you have a lot on your mind, it can be easy to forget about health or safety risks you see, or think 'I'll tell someone about that later'.  And with so much focus on Covid-19 this year, you might have decided not to bother anyone with unrelated concerns.

The reality is that other day-to-day health, safety and wellbeing risks continue around us, alongside the new risks of the pandemic.  Ignoring them won't make them go away, so more than ever it's important to speak up if you spot something.  You might be the only person to notice potential problems or issues.  By reporting concerns, you could be protecting colleagues or passengers.

It's not easy to speak up, especially in these uncertain times.  If you don't want anyone at work to know who is raising the concern, you can get in touch with CIRAS.  We're the confidential reporting service for the railway.

We will pass on your concern confidentially to the company involved – whether it's your employer or a company you are contracted to – and let you know what the response is.  You will find out what steps the company has taken because you spoke up.

What can you expect to happen if you contact us?  Of all the CIRAS reports from the financial year 2019 to 2020, 85 per cent led to at least one action.  So you can expect your report to make a difference.

Here are some case study examples:

Depot welfare facilities

When someone told us about a depot that didn't have toilets with plumbing or sinks, they were concerned about not having running water or soap to wash hands and the impact that this could have on personal hygiene.  They asked for a toilet and sinks with running hot and cold water and, until then, hand sanitiser or a temporary handwashing station.

The company said in response it was hiring temporary welfare units – with hot and cold water and female and male facilities – and ordering a suitable welfare unit.  The company also began a review to identify other areas with poor welfare provision.

Cleaning trollies

An employee contacted us to say that cleaning trollies had been taken out of service because they didn't have any brakes, so there was no longer anything to help staff carry cleaning supplies around a station.  They were concerned that this increased the risk of staff – who were carrying cleaning equipment, rubbish and supplies themselves – suffering from health issues such as back pain or being at an increased risk of slips, trips and falls.

The company told us that staff had been supplied with bags for the interim period and that it had ordered trollies with brakes that were being delivered in the next couple of weeks.

Lone working

We were contacted about the potential risk to staff safety from lone working on weekend shifts.  The reporter said a recently introduced system to identify if a lone staff member was on board a train was vulnerable to high winds, and so was not effective.  They were concerned that slips, trips and falls could go unnoticed and asked for more staff for certain shifts, to mitigate lone working risks.

The company carried out investigations, including a site visit and consultations with teams, and looked at internal documents.  It found that lone working patterns varied and CCTV covered all areas.  In response the company began an immediate lone worker assessment to identify controls and briefed the findings to affected staff.  It arranged communications on lone working and safety reporting to all contract staff, as well as pledging to monitor lone worker controls and carry out start of shift briefings where staff could raise concerns.

PPE

The person contacting us was concerned that staff were not provided with what they believed was the necessary PPE for cleaning vomit on trains – including face masks, safety glasses and overalls – and that staff health could therefore be at risk.

Following an investigation, the company completed PPE issue registers at all sites and specified PPE stock inspection during an upcoming health and safety audit.  It carried out refresher training at all sites and briefed out the CIRAS report to staff.

You can read more about these examples and many more in our newsletters and on our case studies page.

Raise a concern

Reporting hotline: 0800 4 101 101

Reporting textline: 07507 285 887