What happens when a railway person is off work sick?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Ken H, 26 Jun 2019.

  1. darloscott

    darloscott Member

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    I've got a question that I've been wanting to ask for ages and this thread seems as better place as any to throw it in...
    Say there's a train that goes down a route maybe once a day (or worse, maybe once a week!), coming from a bus background it's pretty open to people swapping duties etc. Now I'm thinking if you're rostered to do this run - let's say it's on a late shift for example - and you swap it because you don't like lates or other reason, might be childcare/whatever, now say it's a fairly large depot (I'm thinking something along the lines of Northern Sheffield with Thrybergh line etc) and it only comes round on your rota once or twice in the six month period where route knowledge expires (I believe?).
    If you swapped it away for something better/rest day swap etc then who's responsibility does it become to keep the route knowledge up? Given it was your choice to swap it away etc I'm assuming you'd be encouraged to pick it up again in your own time rest day or whatever?
    Apologies for the long ramble, it's a very 'what if?' question but it's always intrigued me.
     
  2. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    Route refreshers are often built in to the roster. Or you would simply request a refresher.

    Our basic rule is you can request a refresher but at least two weeks before you are booked to work it.
     
  3. DPWH

    DPWH Member

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    OK, slightly provocative question.

    What would happen if a driver who was an exemplary employee had a beer which turned into 8, and got totally rat arsed. Exemplary employee never usually drinks, but...

    The manager needs him to be honest amd call off sick, as he obviously can't work, but then what? It seems that there are some conflicting intentions here.
     
  4. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    No longer a hard and fast rule (as per the standards) and is different for each TOC with some keeping to it and others not.

    It would be 'professional' of you to maintain your route knowledge and if you had to opportunity to swap it then sure, why not. Not sure what you mean by in your own time. If I'm on rest day (as in not working) then I couldn't just go take a train or be up the front of one. If I was working my rest day then different story and you can work whatever your given or even request to do.
     
  5. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    If you are not fit for work, then don't go to work.

    Not sure I understand this part. Are you saying if the employee turned up with a hangover ?
     
  6. pompeyfan

    pompeyfan Established Member

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    It’s the crews responsibility to maintain route knowledge using spare days and route refresh days.

    In regards to the question in regards to being fit to work, by the employee signing on/clocking in, they are saying they are fit to work. The manager officially would be expected to hang the employee if they attended for work under influence of drink or drugs. If they liked the employee they may have a quiet word with them and tell them not to attend work in which normal absence procedures would apply.
     
  7. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    He’s not an exemplary employee if he’s coming to work under the influence, as if for whatever reason he managed to get through the booking-on process then he’s now in charge of a train.

    So quite simply the D&A people will be called, and failing the test will lead to dismissal for gross misconduct. If the person has got as far as being on a train then BTP should also be involved as a criminal offence has been committed. Running away will likely have the same outcome as there will be something in the employment contract where the employee agrees to be tested at any time whilst on duty (herein lies a slight loophole, as depending on how the contract is written the person may well not be under obligation to stay beyond their time if D&A take their time arriving).

    If someone comes in and confesses up to a problem before signing on then this is a different matter, and there are generally support options to cater for this.

    It’s one reason why railway staff are well paid. It’s not nice for the manager(s) involved, but again it’s one of those things where everyone should know the ground rules.

    Not saying people never get sent home, but this is bad practice. If someone’s done it once then they may well do it again, and next time it might not get picked up - the potential consequences of which are self evident.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2019
  8. Undiscovered

    Undiscovered Member

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    As said before, if they've got ratarsed before a shift, not exemplary.

    If they books sick, then they're sick. Doesn't have to give a reason and, depending on how many times they've been sick, it may be that nothing more is said about it.
    If already on attendance management, or a pattern is emerging, then it might be investigated further.

    All railway grades are told categorically, if you have a problem with drink, then own up to it, speak to your manager. Yes, you'll be removed from safety critical duties but you'll also be given plenty of help to get through it and back working again. This has to be done before there's even a suggestion of an incident occuring- no use saying it as the D+A come for you.

    And if you do cover for someone, and it's found out that you did, then you'll be in hot water too.

    I remember a story on here where an incident happened and everyone who had any interaction with the train on its journey was D+A. A dispatcher 3hrs away from it failed and got the sack.
     
    Last edited: 30 Jun 2019
  9. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    There have been many cases when car drivers have been brethalysed in the morning after a heavy drinking session the night before and been found over the limit. A lot of booze can take quite a while to get out of your system. If it catches car drivers out, it could catch out train drivers. Dunno if train drivers can be asked to take a breath test before work.
     
  10. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    You can be asked to take a breath test any time you are on duty. The second you book on you can be tested.
     
  11. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    A test can happen at any time whilst on duty, so any moment between book on time and book off time. It’s also generally more stringent than the standard for car drivers.

    Hence anyone who does wish to discuss a problem with their manager must raise it before they’ve signed on.

    In theory aa manager could intercept someone before that point and advise them to go, however even that should not happen.
     
  12. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    That would be absolutely no excuse. The alcohol limit for train drivers is only 1/3 the car drink drive limit, so it’s necessary to be very careful before an early shift. Any suggestion of coming to work hungover is a total no no on the railway. The nature of the job is that it can impact on how you spend you days off.

    As @bramling has noted above, if a driver was drunk in charge of a train not only would they lose their job but they would have committed a serious criminal offence and could well be facing a prison sentence.

    You can be randomly tested at any time when at work, and would also be tested immediately if you have any kind of incident or someone suspected you were under the influence.

    The best approach is just not to have anything alcoholic the day before a shift - that works for me.
     
  13. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    Thanks for the clear replies, guys.
     
  14. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    That was even stressed to us at Signalling School, and I have since heard that D & A have tested students and one was dismissed from their course. We were told in no uncertain terms, ONE pint is all you can have of an evening.
     
  15. axlecounter

    axlecounter Member

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    Now I’m surprised. I thought the limit was 0. What exactly does 1/3 of the car limit mean?
     
  16. Sonic92

    Sonic92 New Member

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    Isn’t it just zero up here in Scotland?
     
  17. Metal_gee_man

    Metal_gee_man Member

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    35mg in 100ml of breath is the car limit, so 12mg in 100ml of breath for a train driver which is less than a beer in some people
     
  18. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    The Block Link at Crewe used to sign 650 miles +

    Euston (via TV and Brum {via Bescot & Dudley} )
    Hereford
    Holyhead
    Liverpool
    Carlisle
    Manchester
    Derby

    and most places inbetween.

    Also curiosities like Stanlow, Rowley Regis, Silverdale and various other weird freight destinations.
     
  19. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    https://www.rssb.co.uk/rgs/standards/RIS-8070-TOM Iss 1.pdf

    It's quite prohibitive.
     
  20. Dieseldriver

    Dieseldriver Member

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    It's a pretty obvious answer to that question. If I was at work the following day and had had way too much to drink (bearing in mind that by that point I would have already decided 'f**k it, I'm having a good time, I'm not going in tomorrow') I would ring in sick.
    I would never even contemplate turning up for work with alcohol in my system and why would I when the choice is to risk my livelihood/freedom or to have a lazy hungover day courtesy of the company?
    I've never done this and in all probability I never will but the point is, as in any job, as long as you aren't a routine piss taker, taking the odd couple of days sick once in a blue moon isn't a major issue.
     
  21. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    You ring in sick and give yourself a kick up the arse for being a numpty. They're well paid jobs, you have to be disciplined enough to avoid such issues. You might have the odd lapse (same as the most reliable person in the world might sleep through an alarm once every few year but it's something you should be factoring in and actively avoiding.

    If you book on under the influence you may well not only lose your job but find yourself being arrested as well as the railway undertaking is obliged to inform the transport police.
     
  22. 380101

    380101 Member

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    No. It was reduced from 80mg alcohol/100ml blood to 50mg alcohol/100ml blood in Scotland which equates to 22ug/100ml of breath for the breath test.

    Note the above is all for Section 6 of the Road Traffic Act and the ammended version for Scotland.

    I believe its the transport workers Act that covers railway staff.
     
  23. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    My understanding is there’s also a difference between the pass rates for the “railway” test and any test which might be carried out by the BTP. Again the railway is more stringent.

    I presume the test regime is fairly standard across the industry, but I wouldn’t like to say that for definite.

    Thankfully it’s something which rarely crops up. A lot of random and post-incident testing occurs, however I’m pleased to say it’s very much a rarity for someone to fail.
     
  24. axlecounter

    axlecounter Member

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  25. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    It is effectively zero. As someone as said above one alcoholic beverage might be enough to put someone over.

    As I understand it a breathalyser reading of zero cannot be required because the body may naturally produce trace quantities of alcohol, even if the person being tested is completely abstinent.
     
  26. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    There is a difference between zero tolerance and zero alcohol.

    It wouldn't be possible to have a zero level of alcohol. Your body has around 0.1-0.3mg per 100ml or blood. The zero tolerance comes from having a very red line in the sand and that there is no flexibility given to those who do fall foul of it. I've been in a few jobs and you could easily turn in with a hangover and although you would be told off, little more than that would be done. With the railway, there isn't a 'this time we'll let you off' approach. You fail, and your out of a job and potentially facing a prison sentence.
     
  27. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    I don’t think zero is completely viable. Any positive result will result in a medical review from a specialist before being regarded as final.

    Where I am there are different levels for fail. A very small amount will result in a disciplinary warning rather than gross misconduct. I *presume* there’s scope for individual employers to do things their own way as long as they meet the minimum standard.

    This all reminds me of the Moorgate accident and the considerable debate afterwards amongst experts as to whether the driver might have been drinking, something which was never really definitely concluded. In that instance there was the complication that a considerable time period elapsed after the incident. Drugs can be rather more complex, I know someone who failed a test, apparently after consuming a sandwich containing poppy seeds. A medical review was never carried out for that as it was as part of a recruitment process.
     
  28. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    Theoretically, if you've rinsed your mouth out with mouthwash, gone on duty, then been immediately tested (whether 'for cause' or randomly) you could blow a reasonable level, yet not be impaired in any way.

    My last job had a zero-tolerance D&A policy, with good reason, though the limit for alcohol was set at the drink-driving limit. Rather curiously, the Scottish limit in Scotland and the England and Wales limit in England - I never found out why someone's ability to safely operate heavy machinery depended on which side of Hadrian's Wall they were. As a result, whilst I don't normally drink anyway, I certainly wouldn't drink if I was working the next day. New job, pub lunches are perfectly acceptable, and I just can't make the psychological shift.

    The simple pilots' rule always makes sense to me - 24 hours from bottle to throttle. I try to abide by that even when driving, and I'd imagine that a similar approach is necessary in the rail industry.
     
  29. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    I have heard mouthwash has some alcohol in it. As do some bottled shandies. Also some pre made foods, such as trifles could contain traces of alcohol.
    Some hand wash gels also contain alcohol. dont know if the alcohol could get through your skin and into your blood. But they are regarded as a problem in some hospitals when alcoholics drink the hand gel!
    So I think zero is not achievable. You will always get traces.
     
  30. axlecounter

    axlecounter Member

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    Oh yes, I personally know a train driver who was tested when he signed on for an early shift and got a (very) positive result. Not exactly an happy moment for him. A blood test sorted all out, he was just “mouthwash drunk”. :lol:

    Yes, sorry, I was inaccurate. We have a legal limit of 0, wich translates in a technical 0,1‰ limit, needed for considering the above quoted reasons.

    Which, if I got everything right, is below your 29mg/ml in blood limit?
     

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