We spoke to Matt Herod, a tram driver in Manchester and Unite health and safety rep at KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM).
Above: Matt Herod
How did you start at KAM?
I was a musician, but when the kids came along I needed to be home more, so became a bus driver – and loved driving for a living! It was a short hop from that to driving trams for KAM.
Why the interest in health and safety?
As a driver I knew first-hand what health and safety at work was really like and how it might be better. I also saw how people lose faith if they don’t feel heard. So I became a Unite safety rep. TUC [the trades union congress] put me through its safety courses, and KAM has supported me through IOSH. The more I learned, the more interested I became.
Why do you think people stay quiet about safety issues?
People give up if nobody tells them what’s been done because they came forward. It’s a shame because it can take time for things to be resolved. If people don’t see results, they think nothing’s being done, so why bother?
How do you convince people it’s worth speaking up?
Safety officers used to be seen as ‘enforcers’ but thankfully that’s changing. I prefer to show people examples of good results that happen when they have the courage to share what’s on their mind.
What do you think people find hardest to raise?
The little day-to-day things that get skipped over. Big things tend to get dealt with. Smaller stuff like broken cameras or dirty trams can get ignored. Then people feel undervalued and productivity goes down.
How does CIRAS help you do your job?
It’s not only a reporting channel I can suggest, I’ve also learned to follow the same principles. I take time to listen to people, don’t judge them, and make sure I tell them what happens with their concern.
And finally – tell us the craziest safety stories from your time on the trams.
Well there was the trainspotting goat. Someone’s pet goat got loose and used to sit by the tracks and watch the tram go by. It never got in the way, but drivers used to look out for it all the time! We also had a member of the public forget his false leg! I often wonder how he got off the tram on one leg!
Find out more
- Tram and Light Rail