Railway worker fatally struck by train at Purley (06/11)

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by ArchieWoodbine, 6 Nov 2018.

  1. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    There has been a lot of focus on the zero hours aspect to this case yet the wider point (and perhaps more important point in a general sense) is, surely, fatigue and fatigue management
     
  2. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    I can think of numerous places on the routes I sign in metro area London where the cess is unusable due to NR failing to keep weeds and other vegetation down or because their contractors have dumped old rails, ballast bags etc there.
     
  3. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Have you reported them?
     
  4. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    Generally agreed, but I reckon there are two distinct points here:

    1. Zero hours contracts:

    Should staff engaged in safety critical maintenance be employed on casual “zero hours” contracts? To my mind, “no”! That harks back to cost cutting, Railtrack and bad old days of Potters Bar.

    2. Fatigue:

    Fatigue is a massive issue on the railway that is swept under the carpet due to the crazy shifts rail staff of all grades work. There is (rightly) a lot of focus on staff not turning up to work drunk/drugged, so why the relative lack of concern about fatigue, which studies show can be just as debilitating as being drunk/drugged?

    We all know our employers have written fatigue policies in place and therefore “tick the box”, but the culture we work under is a different thing. Taking a fatigue day is treated with extreme suspicion and any member of staff doing so can expect some serious questioning.

    As an industry we have chalked up several deaths (Croydon tram crash) and many other serious incidents in the last few years, including fatal incidents, that can at least partially be blamed on fatigue and are not in the public eye...
     
    Last edited: 13 Jul 2019
  5. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    I didn’t report the stinging nettles hanging between the cess and the DC unit (complete with live shoe gear) I left in a siding earlier today.

    A couple of p way guys were working in the same location and joked “mind the stingers”.

    Why didn’t I report it? Because I’m leaving DC land soon and, in any case, it’s a pointless exercise. I reported the same issue last year, and the year before that, and nothing was done about it.

    Let’s be honest: the whole shebang is run on a shoestring and nothing will ever change.
     
  6. Chrisgr31

    Chrisgr31 Established Member

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    I am fairly sure I have read somewhere that HSE are looking at it, whether they will want to use the evidence from the report I am not sure
     
  7. steverailer

    steverailer Member

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    On Zero hours contracts I fully agree, but unfortunately in the current climate its an employers market as there are that many people looking for work so they juggle the staff around to give as many as they can a small slice. Plus zero hours means less burden on the agency so more profit. As the railway is mostly a weekend job, a lot are self employed/have other jobs and use the rail as a bonus so you can't totally rule out zero hours.

    On fatigue, this is spoke about a lot but nothing is done. How can an industry be taken seriously when the rules are in place that you can work 13 consecutive shift of 12 hours plus an hour each way travel, so 14 hours each day, then start again with only 1 day off????? Also this in a predominately night shift oriented industry. The people on these contracts grab the work while they can, as they never know when they will dry up/fall out of favour with the planners. Add into this the state of some of the hotels you get booked into, and some of the companies having you share rooms to save costs (more profit for them as all hotel costs are paid for by NWR/the customer), plus the distance you may need to travel to the hotel (had one once where it was as quick to go home as travel the opposite direction to the hotel booked) and you can see why some people travel the extra home.

    NWR/Principal contractors could do more, why have guys there 4 hours before the possession is booked? Why make the teams wait until the possession is given up just in case something goes wrong?? I've been on jobs where the above has happened and we've been sat in our vans doing nothing for 6 hours out of a 10 hour shift, we could have got in 2 hours later and left 2 hours earlier and the work would have been done on time. Sometimes its just a power trip by the supervisors/managers. They pay the companies the same if we're there for 12 minutes or 12 hours so what does it matter??

    This is a problem that needs sorting, but people are to busy on b******t petty gloves and glasses and have you raised enough close calls to actually deal with the real issues. Plus the fact that if you speak out about it your tarred as a trouble maker, they say they won't and they have the 'fair culture, no blame' policy but we all know management holds grudges no matter who you are. The bulk of whats put out about fatigue and fair culture is just a tick box exercise to make it look like they are doing something, but these aren't the ones out there doing it night in and night out, working away from home.
     
  8. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    I don't disagree with your position I simply think the zero hours thing is easier to fix. That shouldn't be the focus as the fatigue is the bigger issue in my mind
     
  9. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The zero hours issue makes it very difficult to manage fatigue because an employer has no visibility of what other work their employee might be doing. Plus, as mentioned, someone on a zero hours contract will not want to turn down work offered because they might not be asked next time. So the zero hours issue has to be tackled to allow the fatigue issue to be dealt with, at least in relation to track workers.

    It's not just the railway either. I don't suppose anyone knows how many people have been killed on the roads due to driving errors by over-tired employees.
     
  10. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    I agree.

    I see fatigue as not being possible to fully solve without zero hours.

    Of course if we sorted out proper strategy for engineering access it wouldn't need to be so weekend loaded!
     
  11. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Not sure there's anything in the Report which says that they had to work day and night shifts, or help a friend with painting and decorating in the middle of a sequence of night duties.
     
  12. alxndr

    alxndr Member

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    They don't have to, but you can't ignore that there are pressures on people to do these things. To do so would be naive. Bills still need paying and life continues to go on even when you're on nights. Plus the worry that if you say no you won't get the offer of work or a favour in return the next time.

    Sleep is vitally important but it can be easy to get overwhelmed by other commitments and promises and find that it's the first thing to be sacrificed. You get away with going to work on not much sleep once and the next time think you can do it again, that you'll have a nap in the van, take extra coffee, an energy drink... Until the gamble doesn't pay off.
     
  13. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    Agreed. But safety critical is safety critical and this incident reflects badly on all concerned - Network Rail, their contractors, but also the individuals involved.
     
  14. Rockhopper

    Rockhopper Member

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    Do we know that Network Rail were aware of the zero hours contracts being used or did they turn a blind eye to it do you think?
     
  15. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    You really don't have a clue do you, the PSA guy was lucky, he got a weeks notice of shifts offered on his ZHC , some people get a text the night before.

    Can you imagine the stress and fatigue that puts on people,just trying to make a decent living to pay the rent and bills.

    There's nothing in this thread to say that you had to be so uncaring as to the plight of many people on ZHC and other precarious work situations, but you chose to.
     
  16. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    That's a very good question. Unfortunately, a lot of the work seems to be sub,sub,sub contracting and I wonder if NR do know and tbh if they care as long as work is done.

    It needs a thorough overhaul and if anything came out of this incident to improve things that would be a consolation.
     
  17. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    We do not know that the PSA was working two jobs "to make a decent living to pay the rent and bills".

    Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn't.

    I don't know.

    You don't know.

    That's all I was pointing out.

    (Incidentally, I once worked 4 part-time jobs to make ends meet, but never put my safety, or the safety of others, at risk in doing so.)
     
  18. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    Pathetic....
     
  19. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    Does anybody work extended hours in such a role for the fun of it? Living costs, especially in London, are extortionate.

    The only folk on zero hours contracts I can think of who do it out of choice will be those who are moonlighting to earn beer money/have a nice holiday/pay for a hobby etc i.e. something they want but which isn't going to be a problem if they don't have.
     
  20. Surreytraveller

    Surreytraveller Established Member

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    I think this zero hours business is a red herring. People working nights get fatigued for any number of reasons - having a second job, unable to sleep due to noise at home. I've known permanent full time staff working nights who've held down a daytime job too.
    And this 'ghosting' business - its a lack of supervision and management if staff were able not to turn up at work undetected.
     
  21. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    I don't see why you consider that 'pathetic', it appears to be a perfectly sensible comment.
     
  22. paddington

    paddington Member

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    I read the report.

    As with many accidents, multiple things went wrong at the same time resulting in this unfortunate death.

    The zero hours thing may have been a factor, but it may not have been. As the report says, if the deceased's brother had been there, it is possible both of them would have been killed.

    Even if the worker was fully rested, he may still have chosen to walk on the track, with his back to the direction of trains, and not realised he was leaving the area of possession.

    I used to, for the pure reason that I was greedy. I didn't need the extra money, and there wasn't something I wanted to spend it on, it just went into my investment/pension account. I guess you could say I wanted to spend it on not working in the future.

    I nearly crashed my car 3 times, and that wasn't what made me stop, it was my mum dying from an illness before she could enjoy retirement.

    Exactly. Maybe he was struggling, maybe he wasn't and just saw an opportunity to make some money from a situation where nobody would check if he turned up and even if he did, often only required 1 hour of actual work while being paid for many more hours.
     
  23. jumble

    jumble Member

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    A few observations
    No one knows if the COSS was decorating as a favour or as paid work.
    Labour Agencies probably have issues recruiting at the rate they want to pay and so are not incentivised to ask too many questions
    The payments for such work is clearly a race to the bottom and I agree wholeheartedly that zero hours has no place in safety critical roles
    I hear Crossrail have had a few such accidents
    The differences between Network Rail and their contractors safety standards obviously happen elsewhere
    I have Sky and the dish has been changed twice
    Once by Sub Contractor who came on his own placed a ladder on the side of the house and just went up like a monkey
    Second Sky Engineers. Two people came and drilled a hole in the house to attach a safety chain and had one man holding ladder at the bottom.
    Recovery companies have limited hours that their employees can drive but will happily use sub contractors where no such rules are observed
     
  24. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    But in theory the nrl chief executive could announce tomorrow that zero hours contracts are unacceptable anywhere in the supply chain ( I thought he had)

    My point is that removes the zhc issue that is causing such comment. It does nothing to alleviate the fatigue issues.
     
  25. YorkshireBear

    YorkshireBear Established Member

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    Okay. I think i see your point a bit clearer now. Even if they weren't zero hours they could still take a second job and go decorate effectively is what your saying? So does nothing to solve fatigue.

    I would say though, zhc make fatigue more likely inho. Also NR couldn't remove zhcs from supply chain unless they could start to plan work as a steady workload without the boom and bust!
     
  26. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Yes - the removal of zhc's does not reduce fatigue or the causes of fatigue AND focusing on the zhc aspect of this horrible case does nothing to address the key issue which is fatigue management imo.

    That is a separate issue to the existence of zhc's. I agree should be removed asap!
     
  27. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    I assumed (obviously in error) that virtually all jobs on the railways were heavily unionised. Presumably, there was no strong union to stop recruits/casuals working under ZHC and/or holding multiple jobs ?
     
  28. theironroad

    theironroad Established Member

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    Most still area but the infrastructure side saw Railtrack and network rail use myriads of contractors and sub contractors for short term contracts with staff moving from one project to the next. There's also been increasing use of agency workers , including on gatelines etc who are also on ZHCs . The railway is still heavily unionised compared to many sectors.
     
  29. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Yes, that's my point. If the railways are generally heavily unionised then how did they allow all this to happen ?. They're quick enough to argue over who should open/shut doors, but that attention to detail doesn't appear to extend to Railtrack procedures.
     
  30. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    I thought the problem was that if you employ staff on ZHCs you can't manage their work pattern because they can take other work in between shifts for you - and will probably need to in order to take home a decent amount of money. So banning ZHCs would put the responsibility for fatigue management back where it should be. Of course that doesn't get rid of the issue of fatigue if NR and TOC managements aren't taking it seriously, but ZHCs make the whole thing worse.

    Also I wonder if we are underemphasising the distraction issue - worrying about a family or other work-related problem is a classic contributory cause to accidents.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jul 2019

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