Network Rail Covid 19 Safe Working

Head Office Circular NP/083/20
File Ref: HSR/1/3
3rd April 2020
The Secretary

Dear Colleague


I am writing to inform members that after extensive discussions with your Union at the National Maintenance Council, Network Rail has created a new official Work Instruction “Coronavirus COVID-19 - Safe Working Practices - NR/L3/MTC/CP009” which is being published on Connect and briefed to members.

The document sets out a series of provisions and measures for safe working and protecting the workforce during the current health emergency. This document covers all Network Rail staff who are tasked with carrying out safety critical work, excluding Mobile Operations Managers (MOMs) and Signallers.

Some significant elements of the document include:

  • Staff will only be deployed to tasks that are deemed as essential
  • Leaving staff who are not required on shift at home
  • Applying social distancing in the workplace
  • Providing that vehicles are single occupancy and that own vehicles can be used
  • Measures to ensure social distancing and a segregation barrier within vehicles if two people have to travel together
  • Travelling directly to site from home (using a company vehicle)
  • Going to site in your own vehicle (NR’s insurance will cover you for this and pay a mileage allowance for all miles used for business) in which case you need to let your line manager know before you travel, and for insurance purposes you should carry a copy of NR’s insurer’s cover note
  • Avoiding car sharing if you need to travel from home to the depot
  • Member(s) of your team can collect a vehicle from the depot and pick up another member from home or a designated meeting place away from the depot and while still maintaining the 2 m distance within that vehicle
  • Working practices while in a depot or yard and while maintaining social distancing
  • Measures on welfare facilities
  • Measures on site controls
  • Measures on work activities including maintaining 2 metres social distancing during activities
  • Measures to risk assess how to work should the 2m distance not be possible to maintain
  • Reviewing our Task Risk Controls to enable the correct controls to be detailed in safe work packs so the controls can be briefed to staff. Thirty-seven tasks are being reviewed with the input of RMT.
  • Measures on communications
  • Measures Event of Someone Reporting or Displaying COVID-19 Symptoms while at work

Members should also note that Network Rail has agreed to make made two very important statements in their document that will serve to protect members where they feel they are not properly protected or that their safety is being compromised.

This may be particularly important where the 2 metre social distancing is not maintained and sufficient mitigations or PPE have not been ensured.
These statements are in line with the work safe procedures and workers’ general rights on health & safety where the feel there is a reasonable belief that they may be in serious and imminent danger as follows:

“If social distancing cannot be applied in line with the requirements detailed within this document then report the details to your Line Manager or Supervisor and do not proceed with the activity.”

“If any of these [measures] cannot be adhered to or they believe that any of the line manager’s responsibilities have not been adhered to, stop work and challenge, and invoke the work safe procedure if required.”

Your Union believes that the measures in this official work instruction represent a positive development in protecting members and lowering risks at the workplace during the current health emergency.

As key workers keeping the railways running for other essential workers, freight and goods, it is important that your safety is also considered with appropriate measures, and that your rights to protect yourself by stopping work and invoking the work safe procedure is recognised and expressed in an official Network Rail document.

I would request that you read the full document when it is published and that you take note of the briefings.

This is a rapidly developing situation and we will be engaging in continuous dialogue with the company on all aspects on which I will update you further.

Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members employed within Network Rail as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary