Last month a member of our team attended the Track Safety Alliance supervisory and technical forum on 7 October. It was held at the Network Rail training and development centre in Coventry.
It was a useful event. The Alliance is mainly geared up for p-way renewals and maintenance but the issues raised apply to the wider rail community. There were 116 delegates there ranging from subcontractors, principal contractors and various departments of Network Rail.
The key issues discussed were:
- Third and fourth rail isolations – The Alliance working group has been working on concerns that relate to the complexity of conductor rail isolations whereby live sections still exist within isolation limits ie floater rails and sidings. They have been looking at ways in which live sections can have some sort of visual indicator which will be left in place during a possession to alert everyone on site to the risk. Discussions also took place around whether the people who request / plan isolations are always aware that a live section will be within their isolation limits especially at complex track layouts.
- Signs of trespass – Only actual incidents of trespass are reported to Network Rail. They asked people to report any evidence of trespass in a particular location ie broken fencing or pathways through vegetation with no physical sign of trespass.
- Materials / waste on site – It was discussed that when we as contractors occupy a site on the railway, we should request from the maintainers that any waste materials are removed prior to the works. If they are left in place they could pose an unnecessary risk to our workforce. Where material cannot be removed this should be secured and fenced off.
- Working at height – The alliance has another working group looking at working at height, particularly to do with rail wagons. Various control measures were proposed including ManSafe systems, ladders, platforms and crash bags: the practicality of these options is yet to be reviewed. The main point of this discussion was that preventative measures should always be in place negating the need for anyone to climb onto wagons. Discussions have taken place with NSC [National Supply Chain] with regards to adapting their wagon fleet so they have access steps and edge protection fitted.
We are proud to be part of the Track Safety Alliance which develops and shares best practice in health, safety and wellbeing of track workers across the industry. On 12 November a number of our staff will attend a TSA close call champion meeting.