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Further to my Circular NP/28/2012 of 10th February 2012 I am writing to update you on developments with this case.
Responding to the concerns of the RMT, in a letter dated 21st February 2012, David Higgins the Chief Executive advised the union that the company had engaged a firm of risk specialists to undertake a project to assess the steps the company have taken so far; review the company’s risk assessments on this matter and fully involve the RMT in progressing the issue of secondary protection.
Following this, a meeting was held with the company to discuss progress. The company briefed that as well as the work on secondary protection they have also been developing more robust methods of primary protection.
They advised that restrictions have been placed on high ride Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs) being excluded on gradients greater than 1:75 unless fitted with direct rail wheel breaking. Of the four hundred and fifty RRV rail excavators owned by nineteen sub-contractor companies who supply Network Rail 83 have to date been equipped with direct rail wheel breaking. There is also a programme in place at the same time to fit life-guards on wheels to prevent amputations.
In addition, rail trailers (10t) are being fitted with service brakes. To date so far four hundred and eight or 55% of this fleet has been fitted with service brakes. Once 85% of the fleet are fitted the remainder will be prohibited from work on NR infrastructure.
The Senior Assistant General Secretary, members of the General Grades Committee and, in a separate meeting, a number of health and safety reps have met with Lloyds Register, the company selected to undertake the Secondary Warning Risk Review and presented evidence on the work that has been undertaken by the RMT on this issue and an appreciation of the risks involved from runaway vehicles in track work.
We expect the Lloyd’s Register report to be delivered to the company shortly, following which there will be further discussions with the company on the way forward.
Finally I am pleased to report that six Vortok “rear-guard” secondary protection units have been delivered to Carnforth DU and a meeting is scheduled shortly to agree protocols for field trials of these units which will see secondary protection for track workers finally come into force. Trials are expected to last five months following which a joint RMT/Network Rail report into the trials will be produced and if the trials are successful will lead to national roll out early in 2013.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members. I will keep you informed of developments with this case.