28th October 2016
Our Ref: HSR/2/15
Head Office Circular NP/257/16
ALL REGIONAL COUNCILS
NETWORK RAIL – TRACK WORKER SAFETY 019+
You will be aware from previous Circulars in relation to the Roles and Responsibilities file that Network Rail are seeking assistance from the RMT and its representatives on devising a new track worker protection standard 019+. Our nominated representatives have spent three days this week locked in discussions with the company.
Following on from these meetings our Lead Union Health and Safety Representatives and our Industrial Co-ordinators meet with the National Executive Committee to consider the way forward. Following this meeting the NEC have adopted the following resolution:
Further to our decision NWW 20th October 2016 we note that Network Rail has started consultation on a new standard “019+” and that our Lead Health & Safety Reps have attended initial meetings and reported back on their impressions of the draft.
In noting the views expressed at the meeting with this NEC, we are of the view that the most important issue in track worker protection and safety is the continued failure of Network Rail to provide sufficient resources, including staffing levels to comply with the existing standards.
These failures mean that Network Rail is continually in breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act.
This failure will only be magnified by creating a new standard that would need even more resources to work properly.
Therefore this NEC is of the view that we cannot accept that a new or modified standard can be created without firm guarantees that sufficient resources will be provided by Network Rail to ensure compliance with the current standard or any revised or new standard. These guarantees must be in place before the new standard is created.
Therefore the General Secretary is instructed to write to Network Rail seeking an urgent meeting on this issue of provision of resources, and continued non-compliance to standards and to inform NR that the RMT cannot commit to further engagement in the current consultation until sufficient resources are guaranteed.
The GS is further instructed to inform members that they should not accept SSOWPs packs that are unsafe and they have a right to refuse to work under the “worksafe” process and should use it. Members doing work which they know to be unsafe risk their own health and safety, the health and safety of their colleagues, and can also face disciplinary measures – as happened this year to one COSS after a near miss.
Relevant branches and Regional Councils to be advised Area reps, company council reps in Infrastructure Maintenance Companies, to be informed.
I have written to Network Rail in accordance with these instructions. Information on the legal position to utilising worksafe procedures can be found in the RMT publication on serious and imminent danger available on the RMT website at: https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/publications/serious-and-imminent-dangers/serious-and-imminent-dangers.pdf Members with access to Connect can access the company’s worksafe procedure on Connect at: http://connectdocs/NetworkRail/Documents/NewsAndUpdates/FrontPageUpdates/2011/Worksafe%20instructions%20and%20documentation%20from%20NR_L2_OHS_00112%20.pdf
Members who invoke the worksafe procedure in this regard should report the facts to Head Office Health and Safety Section on 020 7529 8817/8838.
I will keep you updated on developments. Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all relevant members.