Our ref: HSR/1/13
Head Office Circular: NP/75/22
21st March 2022
To: The Secretary
LNER EYESIGHT STANDARD FOR SAFETY CRITICAL STAFF
Your Berwick Rail Branch submitted the following resolution:
This branch is extremely concerned to hear about the application of the eyesight standard for safety critical staff by LNER. Safety critical staff have been advised that as they don’t meet a minimum unaided standard, they can no longer perform safety critical duties.
The standard LNER are using has not changed and staff who use spectacles/contact lenses, who have been safety critical for over ten years and had no deterioration in their eyesight, are now being advised that their original test was “not carried out correctly” and they must meet an unaided standard.
We believe that this may be discriminatory under the 2010 Equalities Act and are concerned behind reasoning for any requirement for safety critical staff to require to be tested unaided if vision with aids meets required standard.
This has the potential to affect large proportion of safety critical workforce and there appears to be no logic in its application. Reps have suggested a risk assessment is used for those who do not meet unaided standard, but this has been refused by LNER safety team who are happy for long serving staff to lose their substantive post despite no change in their vision since they gained their licence.
What is the actual likelihood of staff who wear corrective glasses for day-to-day activities requiring to see unaided as they go about their duty? Any risk could easily be mitigated by such provision as ensuring spare glasses are carried with them on their person in a hard case or that glasses they wear are supported by a band around head. The risk is even less for contact lens wearers as they would not fall off in the event of any accident.
If you are short sighted to a certain degree yet can work with aid to achieve vision acuity required – staff are being told you cannot be safety critical anymore. We believe this discriminates against those affected and is draconian in application.
We call upon the Executive Committee to request that the General Secretary writes to LNER and also the RSSB to ascertain why members who are competent in their role and can meet aided standard are being told they can no longer perform duties and why LNER have not made reasonable adjustments to accommodate said members in their substantive role and report back to the branch. We also request that the union seeks a legal opinion on this matter.
We will not accept attacks on members roles based on application of a standard that is discriminatory.
At its meeting on 17th March 2022, your National Executive Committee noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:
We note the resolution from Berwick Rail Branch for which the Branch is thanked.
The General Secretary is instructed to seek a meeting between the RMT Lead Officer and LNER and to write to LNER and RSSB to ascertain why members who are competent in their role and can meet aided standard are being told they can no longer perform duties, and why LNER have not made reasonable adjustments to accommodate said members in their substantive role.
The General Secretary is further instructed to seek a legal opinion on this matter.
I am acting in accordance with this instruction and will keep members appraised of any further developments.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.