Lookout Oprated Warning Systems - (LOWS)

Our Ref: HSR/2/6
Head Office Circular: NP/093/14
20th May 2014

The Secretary
Our Ref: HSR/2/6
Head Office Circular: NP/093/14
22nd May 2014

The Secretary

Dear Colleague


Further to Head Office Circular NP/093/14, 20th May 2014 I am pleased to report progress with this matter. A joint meeting between RMT and management from Network Rail we have agreed the following:

•    RMT have received assurances that LOWS is used in Network Rail by properly trained, fully competent and directly employed staff.
•    Currently we do not have the same assurance for the High-Output/contractor world. Some audits have been undertaken by Network Rail of the contractors that use LOWS but further work has yet to be done.
•    We therefore believe that LOWS usage can be resumed by competent Network Rail Maintenance staff and Network Rail approved LOWS and ATWS providers.
•    Until we get an assurance that the contractors have similar, acceptable systems in place for setting up and usage of the LOWS system we cannot agree the same for the rest of the contractor community. The good practice and lessons learnt established by Network Rail should be applied within the contractor community.
•    We further believe that the contractor community have additional problems with safe systems of work and protection associated with ALO and that these need to be addressed as part of this review.
•    We have heard evidence that some staff are disadvantaged in the workplace and placed at additional risk through being unable to communicate effectively; may not have security of employment and that this may be contributing to safety risk in the workplace. These concerns should also be investigated and addressed by the review if substantiated.
•    This review has also identified additional problems of a safety cultural/behavioural perspective and accepted bad practice that are not being addressed by management.
•    A deeper review of LOWS failures from a human factors and a safety culture perspective therefore needs to be undertaken.
•    RMT believe that the safety of staff has been given a lower priority than that of the travelling public, trains and production. We believe that unless this imbalance is addressed we will not be fully satisfied that the issues identified by the review have been resolved.

A further meeting to explore the way forward and to begin the more comprehensive review of our concerns in this matter will take place on Friday 23rd May 2014.

Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
Acting General Secretary