What happens when a railway person is off work sick?

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

  1. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    I think it depends on the units. Does this mean a blood alcohol content of 0.1% (ie 0.1g per 100ml)? From a quick google search that would be enough to make someone slur their speech and appear drunk so I’d imagine an “effectively zero” limit is far below this.

    You’d need to compare the UK mg/ml limits across blood, alcohol and urine with the Swiss equivalents to be sure.

    I’ve not heard of anyone failing a med screen for alcohol. What has caught a few people out is the presence of “illicit” substances which can linger in the blood stream for weeks.
     
  2. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    I know of two signallers, one trainee signaller and a conductor all fail for alcohol in "for cause" screening within the last 10 years.
     
  3. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Where I am we had a driver book on obviously pissed. D&A were called, driver absconded and then went sick. When tested upon return the person then failed on drugs. With hindsight this “colourful character” might have been picked up sooner if some links had been made between a few strange events.

    It certainly demonstrates the value in a face-to-face booking on process. However, even here the manager who picked it up said he probably would not have noticed had he not previously had an alcoholic ex partner and was therefore particularly sharp on what to notice.

    This sort of thing is *very* rare though. It’s the only such case I can think of.
     
  4. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    Indeed, two of the incidents mentioned in my post provided management with an explanation for a couple of odd incidents with the benefit of hindsight... I also know of a signaller (probably around 15 years ago now) who was eventually for cause screened on account of his very strange behaviour at work over the course of a number of weeks and tested positive for various illicit drugs.
     
  5. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    No doubt because D&A violations are generally so rare it simply isn’t the first thing which springs to mind. Thankfully I’ve never known anyone fail a post-incident test.

    One lesson learned though through bitter experience. If someone attempts to book on pissed, it’s a lot less hassle to keep quiet and let them get as far as the train before intervening (as in waiting for them to key on and sit down in the chair, and intervene before they have the chance to actually move the train), as from the point they’ve taken charge of the train BTP will be interested. Otherwise it can actually end up with a pile of difficulty, there being no mechanism for railway staff to physically detain someone, with a potential subsequent game of who said/did what, especially if there’s no witnesses. Whilst we talk of zero tolerance, there are a couple of loopholes for those brazen enough. This may sound nasty, as BTP involvement likely means the person will wind up in prison as well as losing their job, however it avoids the problem encountered in my (real-life) example.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jul 2019
  6. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    With D&A do they test for over the counter medication, and also prescribed stuff

    What about over the counter co-codamol?
    some flu remedies contain lots of paracetamol.

    We were talking above about hangovers. hangovers are caused by dehydration (booze is a diuretic) and vitamin c deficiency. We can also get dehydrated by not drinking enough especially in hot weather. And there are cultural reasons why people may be dehydrated.

    Dehydration causes loss of concentration and weariness.

    Does anyone check for dehydration in safety critical staff?
     
  7. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    If it's anything like my old job that did D&A tests, when you get called in you're asked to tell them about any medication you've been taking. Presumably if you tested positive, and were taking medication that might interfere with the initial test, the sample would be sent for further analysis. Quite what would happen to you during the interim period, I don't know. Certainly if you tested positive without a good reason, it was instant dismissal.

    The one I did tested specifically for a number of controlled drugs, and the only over-the-counter medication I can think of that might cause issues would be co-codamol - the codeine presumably behaving similarly to the opioids in heroin.
    I imagine that dehydration itself is quite difficult to screen for, but presumably if signing on face-to-face a manager ought to be keeping an eye out for anyone who isn't functioning at full efficiency. Which could be due to drugs or alcohol, but equally well due to dehydration, low blood sugar, lack of sleep, or illness.
     
  8. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    There is a smile test you can perform yourself. Go for a pee. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.
     
  9. LowLevel

    LowLevel Established Member

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    I can add a driver, various platform staff and a guard. It's not prevalent but it certainly happens. All dismissed.
     
  10. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    The mind boggles that anyone can simply throw away what are highly decent jobs. No one can say they don’t know the score when they sign up.
     
  11. muz379

    muz379 Established Member

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    If a driver with an otherwise exemplary record has too much to drink the night before work and so decides to book sick the next day then this would be treated in line with the TOC or FOC absence policy . If there have been no recent instances of sickness then there will be no sanction for this . If they have had recent absences then there are various policies aimed to further monitor sickness .

    If a driver with an otherwise exemplary record has had too much to drink the night before work but decides to book on regardless knowing that there is a good chance they have alcohol in their system then they run the risk of being caught in violation of the D&A policy . This could happen in a number of ways , they could be suspected of being in violation of the policy during booking on in which case they could be asked to submit to a D&A screening ,a colleague could suspect them of being in violation and report it to a manager at which point you could be asked to submit to D&A screening or they could have an incident which then results in D&A screening .Of course there is also always the chance that they could get through their shift undetected . If you get caught in violation of the D&A policy any previous exemplary record is going to be irrelevant because the penalties for such are clear .
     
  12. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    we had a bloke who used to drink in the toilets at work. office worker so no safety aspect. but he kept his job, but heavy HR involvement. I'd say he was very lucky.
     
  13. Bromley boy

    Bromley boy Established Member

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    I assume this was a non railway employer?

    Drinking at work would be a sackable offence for office workers on the railway, just as it would be for safety critical staff.
     
  14. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    If you get to the stage where you are drinking in the work toilets you are ill, and that means HR are likely to be less inclined to go for a straight gross misconduct dismissal (non safety critical work).
    We had a chap who was clearly an alcoholic but HR were making a right meal of it - duty of care etc.
     
  15. Ken H

    Ken H Established Member

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    not railway.
    I am agency worker there, but I am pretty sure drinking in the workplace is not allowed.
     
  16. ComUtoR

    ComUtoR Established Member

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    In one of my old jobs you were not allowed to drink at work or during work hours. We went out with the Managers one afternoon... We walked past the pub, they walked in, and then proceeded to invite us all in for lunch. Even managed to claim it back on expenses too.
     

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