8 April 2020
RMT Press Office:
RMT issues advice to rail and bus members that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide adequate protection from COVID-19
TRANSPORT UNION RMT has issued advice to tens of thousands of workers in the rail and bus sector throughout the UK today saying its members should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from COVID-19.
The message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against COVID-19.
The advice says rail and bus workers should stop work and invoke the “safe work procedure if employers do not follow key protection measures” including:
• Employers to only conduct activities and tasks that are necessary for running the essential services for key workers and movement of freight during the emergency. Staff to only be deployed to tasks that are deemed as essential.
• Avoid large and small gatherings to maintain two metres of separation between workers; and with the public, including when travelling in vehicles and trains; meaning that employers have to provide for single occupancy in work vehicles and for passenger vehicles, an isolation zone including zoning-off seats; and screens around drivers and crew.
• Maintain two metres of separation between all individuals when on task. Where the task is essential to the safe operation of the service, and cannot be performed with two metres of separation, then personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye defenders and masks to be utilized by all workers in close proximity to provide mutual assurance and the time spent within two metres must be minimized and only for the purpose of the task. If full appropriate PPE is not available then work should not commence.
• Members who have an underlying condition who are exercising “particularly stringent social distancing”, as advised by the NHS, should observe the two metres distance at all times and should decline any task where the two metres distance could be breached.
• As a temporary measure – minimise cash transactions when working, wherever possible.
• All companies in the rail and bus sectors need to ensure that toilet and washing facilities are open and readily available for transport workers at all locations so that they can comply in full with government advice.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Today we have issued advice to our members in the rail and bus sectors that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from COVID-19.
“That means that if they are not provided with PPE, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary they should not be working.
“Our members are increasingly concerned that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against COVID-19.”
The advice issued to RMT rail members can be found here https://bit.ly/3eey8Ui
The advice issued to RMT bus members can be found here https://bit.ly/2Xl48jE
The advice includes the following important element:
“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 control 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 (or equivalent) if required."
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.
RMT believes the current Coronavirus – COVID-19 Pandemic represents a real threat to life that can be deemed as “serious and imminent”