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Shift pattern review and depot recruitment drive follows

 © John McIntyre, Shields Depot

A reporter has raised multiple safety concerns regarding Shields Depot in Glasgow:

Staffing levels
Following the implementation of multiple new units three years ago, drivers were experiencing an increase in workload, whilst staffing levels had not been increased. Duties included depot driving, movement coordination and shunting. This was felt to be having an impact on employee fatigue levels and general wellbeing and could possibly lead to operational incidents.

Working alone
Drivers could be rostered to work up to 12 hour shifts in the depot, alone. Should a driver injure themselves, or be a victim of assault, there would be no available support.

Electronic radio devices
Drivers are required to have an electronic radio device on their person at all times. However, drivers can receive up to fifty calls per shift, which is potentially a distraction which could result in an operational incident.

Lack of coordinator
In addition, the reporter stated that drivers do not have a designated movement coordinator to delegate responsibilities evenly and manage the team. This resulted in confusion and potential tension within the work environment.

The reporter asked Abellio Scotrail if they could:

  • Consider employing more drivers at Shields Depot, to manage the workload?
  • Consider rostering at least two staff members on a shift, to ensure that staff are not working alone?
  • Clarify if drivers should always have electronic radio devices on them and ensure that all staff are aware of the procedures?
  • Consider hiring a person to act as a movement coordinator for drivers?

Abellio ScotRail's response
Abellio Scotrail would like to thank the reporter for raising their concerns.

Staffing levels
Firstly, it is recognised that Shields Depot has seen an increase in workload over the last few years due to a change in timetable and more recently in June with the introduction of 10x Class 365’s. On the back of this, a shunting review was carried out over all three shifts, day shift (D/S), back shift (B/S) and night shift (N/S) to fully understand how this had impacted on the daily duties and workload of a Depot Operator (DO). Shields has DO’s who can both drive and shunt.

We currently have seven full time DO’s who, with the exception of Saturday and Sunday, provide 24/7 coverage with two DO’s on shift. The seven full-time DO’s are supported by six relief DO’s who work within the level 1-4 maintenance teams, and provide cover every six weeks on B/S but also cover for holidays and sickness as required. One DO on shift will act as the movement coordinator for all depot movements.

Following the review, we initially recruited an additional full-time DO to take the team to eight. However, we recently made the decision to increase the full-time team to 10 DO’s and the additional posts have been advertised.

Working Alone
The longest shift a DO is rostered for is Saturday B/S, 1400 – 0030, which is a 10.5 hour shift. There are no rostered shifts at 12 hours. A certain part of the Saturday B/S, 1400 – 2100, and Sunday B/S 1600 - 1900 is lone working. At this time, the DO on duty should adhere to the ‘Lone working’ risk assessment ENG/RA/045. We do have a security guard on depot through the weekend who patrols the yard on an hourly basis, this involves contacting the DO by radio before each hourly patrol. This ensures we have support on depot should the DO injure themselves, become victim of assault or be involved in any other type of incident.

We are currently trialling a change to the level 1-4 maintenance team who work a Saturday night to assist the DO with workload. This was previously carried out by the DO, and the feedback being received since this change is positive. We also plan to review the DO roster to accommodate the 3x additional staff currently being recruited for, with a view to increasing the Saturday B/S cover during the busy period of arrivals 1900 – 0030, with two DO’s on shift.

Electronic Radio Devices
During the review which was carried out, it was highlighted that the number of phone calls being received has increased with the increase in diagrams in and out of the depot. This along with increased movements at certain times of the day, has highlighted the need for some form of yard coordinator to be on duty during the peak arrival times, as this is when most communications take place.

Lack of coordinator
We have recently advertised for a trial development opportunity for a DO yard coordinator/team leader. This position will manage the daily workload, act as the main point of contact for all depot moves during the busy peak times, and liaise with the different depot functions to understand maintenance requirements. This will enable future moves for the day to be planned for, and should eradicate any confusion and minimise any tension between departments.

Additional information: Until the additional staff are recruited and trained over the next six months, wherever possible, we will commit to having a 3rd DO on duty through the peak arrival times on day shift of 0900 – 1100. This will allow one DO on duty to act as the yard coordinator for all movements and communications during this busy period. The lone working risk assessment ENG/RA/045 is a generic risk assessment for all depots and out bases, and after review, has been amended to include Shields Shunting staff whereby they are to keep in contact with the Shift Manager or Team Leader every hour when they are working alone.