Our ref: HSR/1/2
Head Office Circular: NP/153/23
25th August 2023
To: The Secretary
LUL – ASBESTOS IN ASH TRACK BEDS
Your London Underground (LU) Engineering Branch submitted the following resolution:
This branch has been aware that the ash that is used in depots, sidings and other areas is contaminated. The toxic materials include asbestos, mercury and other metals. Also, we are aware that in some locations, ballast has been placed on top of the ashes and mixed in with it. This not only affects LUL workers but any company that may disturb this material. We are concerned that management are dragging their feet on this matter and we demand the following:
- A letter is sent to LUL bringing this to their attention and making them culpable for any further potential risk to our members.
- An emergency meeting is set up at the highest level to raise our concerns directly with LUL
- All work is stopped that involves disturbing depot/ sidings (and wherever else it is used) ash across the LUL network unless the ash has been tested and shown to be clear.
- A warning letter of advice is sent to all affected members including advice on their right to refuse to work on the grounds of health and safety.
Following receipt of this resolution, I emailed and texted members of LU Engineering and Fleet branches as follows:
I write to inform you that asbestos and other hazardous material has been found in ash track beds at Hainault train maintenance depot.
RMT’s London Transport Regional Organiser is writing to LUL to seek an ad-hoc safety forum meeting and assurances that no work will be carried out that disturbs ash track beds at this time.
What to do in the meantime if you believe you are in serious and imminent danger as a result of being asked to carry out any work that disturbs the ash track bed at Hainault - or any other location on London Underground:
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that employers must have procedures to be followed "in the event of serious and imminent danger".
Employees are protected by law if they decide that their work situation represents a threat of “serious or imminent danger” and as a result of this belief they remove themselves to a place of safety.
Protection is also given to trade union appointed health and safety representatives.
Further Guidance on serious and imminent danger can be found on the RMT website at: https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/serious-and-imminent-danger-booklet/
At its meeting on 24th August 2023, your National Executive Committee noted and adopted the following report from its Health and Safety Sub-committee:
We instruct the General Secretary to thank the LU Engineering Branch for their resolution – and to explain that we share their concerns as regard the toxic materials, including asbestos, contained in ash that is used in depot and siding track beds.
We note that many of the actions called for in the resolution have already been addressed.
However, to accelerate employers’ actions in relation to this issue we instruct the General Secretary to arrange a high level meeting with LUL at which the Lead Officer attend with Tier 2 reps from Fleet, Track and L&M (EV maintenance).
Relevant members to be informed accordingly.
Branch and affected members to be informed by email and text.
I am acting in line with these instructions. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.