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Safety Briefing No.75

    1. Excavator put on an open line (10/02/22)

    On 26th January 2022 at 00:32, an Engineering Supervisor (ES) for a worksite within the East Midlands Route (B) was granted permission to commence work. The ES called the Machine Controller (MC) identified on his paperwork to confirm that the machine could be on-tracked. The MC who was contacted was actually on site at Parsons Tunnel, Western Region (A), following a change to the original plan (where he was designated as the East Midlands MC). The Parsons Tunnel MC on-tracked his machine at 00:32 at Smugglers Lane Access Point before being challenged at 00:37 by the Principal Contractor Supervisor and told to remove the machine as the possession had not yet been granted. The Parsons Tunnel machine had been placed on an open line. This led to the discovery of the mis-communication. Whilst there was no train in the immediate vicinity, the risk identified following this incident was deemed significant.

    Discussion point:

    • Where possible, the ES and COSS should meet in person before any machines are on-tracked.

    • Are Spoken Safety Critical Communications (SSCC) routinely checked to ensure compliance?

    • All Safety Critical roles MUST use SSCC protocols as per training and competency, both parties have a responsibility to undertake SSCC to come to a clear understanding. Do you feel confident communications are clear and effective?

    • How are late changes of personnel managed, documented and communicated?

    • How do you challenge instances where SSCC is not followed? Remember, Take 5 for safety and invoke the Worksafe Procedure if there is any doubt.

    • How do you ensure you are in the right location and have the right safety protection arrangements before starting work?

    2. Overturned forklift truck (23/12/21)

    On 17th December 2021 three contractors working for Route Services at Holgate depot were moving a 4.5 tonne steel frame into a building. This was not a routine activity. The team decided to lift, turn and carry the frame using two forklift trucks. The two trucks each had a different lifting capacity, one a 13 tonne and the other a 3 tonne safe working load. They were positioned each end of the load and each lifted the frame using a single-point lifting strap over their forks. As the suspended frame started to turn, the smaller truck was pushed out of position and overturned. Fortunately, there were no injuries. This was a complex, tandem lifting operation but there was no specific risk assessment or lifting plan. No-one was supervising the lifting operation. This event is classed as a RIDDOR Dangerous Occurrence and a level 2 investigation is underway.

    Discussion point:

    • How do you recognise an operation which requires more specialised assessment and knowledge?

    • What should you consider when planning a tandem lift?

    • Who should you involve in assessing the risk in a complex lifting operation?

    • How do you check you are using the correct tools and method for the activity

    • Do you know what must be done to report a RIDDOR reportable Dangerous Occurrence?

    3. Crossing open lines at Hendon (18/02/22)

    On 21 September 2021 at 23:20, four members of staff working on behalf of Route Services crossed the Up and Down Hendon Lines to egress the operational railway at Hendon Station without a Safe System of Work in place despite being aware that the lines were open to traffic. The Level 2 investigation found that the Person in Charge (PIC) and the Controller of Site Safety (COSS) deliberately broke the Rule Book, Standard NR/L2/OHS/019 ('Safety of people at work on or near the line') and the 'Plans and Permits' Life Saving Rule. They chose to rely on personal judgement rather than contacting the Signaller, the Responsible Manager (RM), Route Control, SCO 24/7 or waiting for an imminent possession to be granted and contacting the Person in Charge of the Possession to arrange a method of safe and compliant egress. The COSS & PIC have each had their COSS competence suspended for a two years. The underlying causes were identified which placed the team in a position where they had to make unplanned decisions, these are shown below.

    Key Message:

    • Standard 019 clearly defines how work must be planned by the RM, Planner, PIC and others who can provide additional technical expertise working together.

    • Senior leaders should make sure the RM, Planner and PIC have the right time, training and equipment to comply with Standard 019.

    4. Collision between a train and lorry stabiliser leg (15/02/22)

    At 08.32 on 27 August 2021 in Penistone, South Yorkshire, a lorry arrived to remove portable toilet units that had been onsite throughout a track renewal project. The driver, who did not have track safety competence, was let into site and parked close to the open line. The stabiliser legs were positioned to enable the driver to use the crane. As the removal of the toilet units was underway, an approaching train struck the lorry's nearside stabiliser leg. This leg had been positioned within half a metre of the open line.

    Key Message:

    • Companies which work within the railway boundary must manage and supervise lineside visitors.

    • This is just as important when sites are being set up or shut down, or on other occasions when supervisory staff are less likely to be present.

    • Companies must clearly understand the requirements for when road vehicles are to be brought within the railway boundary.

    • There must be an appropriate safe system of work, and staff with the required competencies.