Our Ref: HSR/2/6
Head Office Circular: NP/163/20
3rd July 2020
To: The Secretary
ALL REGIONAL COUNCILS
RELAXATION OF THE LOCKDOWN IN ENGLAND – UPDATED RMT INFORMATION
As you will be aware be the government have taken the decision to further relax lockdown measures in England on 4th July 2020. From this date the government have stipulated that if people cannot keep a 2 metre distance they should reduce the risk by maintaining a 1metre plus distance and take suitable mitigations.
To take into account the decision by the government to further relax lockdown measures, discussions have taken place at the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum (RICF), the body comprised of the rail unions and main rail employers.
As a result of those discussions and representations by your union, the RICF has produced a new document which can be found here: https://bit.ly/3gr5EXo
This document was reported to your NEC who have noted the report.
I would specially draw your attention to the following extract and tables from the RICF documents:
“The primary position is to maintain 2 metres where possible, however, 1metre plus will be considered where normal work tasks are required to be undertaken and appropriate mitigations can be applied.
Employee – Employee
Arrangements for operational workplaces / offices / depots / messrooms etc. are already planned and in place to maintain 2 metres and this will continue to be applied.
However, recognising where location specific operational challenges, or needs, identified in locations and/or premises that makes this no longer possible to maintain, then any consideration to reduce to 1 metre plus will need to be discussed and agreed as part of any local joint risk assessment process and engagement with local representatives.
Passenger – Employee
Normally, employees should seek to maintain 2 metre distance where possible to do so when interacting with passengers.
Where this is not compatible with the reintroduction of a full customer service offering with station or on-board tasks and activities then any consideration to reduce to 1 metre plus will need to be discussed and agreed as part of any local joint risk assessment process and engagement with local representatives. Consideration should be given to a temporary redesign of the activity to enable social distancing to be achieved within a safe
system of work.
Passenger – Passenger
Passengers will continue to be encouraged to try and maintain 2 metres social distancing wherever they are able to do so. However, it is recognised that the passenger expectation will be to apply 1 metre plus in line with Government communications and the policy on the mandatory requirement for the wearing of face coverings when using public transport as an appropriate mitigation. This can be facilitated by applying the Government guidance through passengers sitting or standing side-by-side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements and/or seat reservations on train permit.
- If you’re not well – don’t come to work and don’t travel
- If you’re at work wash your hands frequently with soap and water/ hand sanitizer
- Where possible work from home
- Maintain at least 2 metres social distancing at work
The employer should ensure the following:
- Restrict passenger travel to essential journeys only for as long as possible
- If 2 metres social distancing can’t be maintained, agreed protection must be in place
- Please note in respect of above the employers have agreed any consideration to reduce to 1 metre plus in respect of employee to employee interaction will need to be discussed and agreed as part of any local joint risk assessment process and engagement with local representatives
- Also in respect of above the employers have agreed any consideration to reduce to 1 metre plus in respect of passenger to employee interaction will need to be discussed and agreed as part of any local joint risk assessment process there will need to be a temporary redesign of the activity to enable social distancing to be achieved within a safe system of work.
You will note this section references on-board tasks and activities, which could include for example revenue collection and catering. To be clear it is your union’s position that there is not an expectation that staff carry out such activity under two metres if passengers are not wearing masks. Staff also have the option of deciding not to do this under safety grounds. Indeed previous RICF principle documents recognise you have a legal right to take yourself to a place of safety if you feel you are in danger.
- Please note that in respect the risk assessments and safe systems of work in the circumstances outlined once agreed locally must then be referred company level for final agreement.
The following RMT advice also remains in place.
- Non-PPE standard masks such as surgical masks and face coverings are no excuse to allow over-crowding or breaches of 2 metre social distancing
- Tasks must be Risk Assessed and Safe Systems of Work created and agreed with RMT Representatives according to the circumstances and in order to protect staff and public in the current Coronavirus emergency.
- Risk Assessments and revised Safe Systems of Work may mean that PPE is required in order to protect the wearer, such as face masks, visors and gloves. Where such PPE is required, it must be of a sufficient PPE standard as agreed with RMT Representatives to protect the wearer.
- Where provided, PPE must be adequate and always available
- Such situations may include, but are not limited to, working on gatelines, providing passenger assistance and interaction with passenger’s on-board trains
RMT advice to Members
- Remember, if you are placed in any situation where you feel your health and safety is not protected, you have a legal right to take yourself to a place of safety
- RMT will protect you and your rights
- Talk to your RMT Health and Safety Rep about your concerns
Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members.