LT Health & safety

Taking The Piss... And Worse?

Spare a thought for the staff, particularly cleaners, and passengers who had a nasty surprise at Oxford Circus late last month when a sewer pipe burst, leading to what might euphemistically be referred to as brown effluence leaking on the Argyll gate line and down towards the escalators.

A long-awaited refurb of the staff toilets was underway at the time. Tubeworker wonders whether the company LU hired to do the job might've botched it, leading to the... ahem... shitty situation.

Yet another argument for bringing maintenance work back in house.

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Rats!

LU workers and contractors who risk coming into contact with rats and mice in bin rooms and machines chambers are meant to be issued with medical briefing cards about leptospirosis (Weil's disease).

Some AGS agency cleaners on the Bakerloo, Central, and Victoria Lines have been denied these cards. AGS say it's Interserve's responsibility to provide them; Interserve say the agency must do it. Tubeworker would like to knock AGS and Interserve's proverbial heads together. Their buck-passing is putting cleaners' health at risk.

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North Greenwich Terror Alert

A controlled explosion was carried out on a suspect package at North Greenwich Tube station on 20 October, highlighting the ongoing possibility of a further terrorist atrocity on London Underground. Nobody was injured this time and the diligence and professionalism of the workers involved must be recognised.

On 7/7, frontline London Underground staff were amongst the first to respond, rushing to incident scenes, arranging and facilitating emergency service response, and evacuating passengers to safety at stations across London.

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Slimer Returns!

Recent heavy rainfall led to serious flooding at many stations, including Balham. Maintenance workers put bright green dye in the water supply to identify exactly where the flooding was originating, making the station look like it had been attacked by Slimer from Ghostbusters.

Incidents like this, as well as recent leakage problems at Oxford Circus, show some serious deficiencies in basic infrastructural maintenance. Years of budget cuts and outsourcing of maintenance work can't have helped.

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Something In The Air Tonight

A recent article in Time Out magazine reminded readers of a study by scientists at University College London, which concluded that the air quality on the Tube is so poor that spending 20 minutes on the Northern Line has an equivalent effect on the lungs as smoking a cigarette.

If that's the case, what effect does a two-hour SATS duty have? Or a night shift in the tunnel for track workers? Or the eight hours that cleaners often spend at platform level?

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Oxford Circus Swimming Pool?

Staff at Oxford Circus are wondering whether they might soon need waders and galoshes as part of their PPE, as a series of leaks have led to significant build-ups of water on platforms and in passageways.

Station staff and cleaners have done a good job managing the situation to keep the place safe for passengers, but unless the underlying issue (which seems to be a problem with piping) is properly fixed in short order, that won't be possible for much longer. Union safety reps are on the case and will need to make sure management don't cut corners with safety.

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Wot No Formal Investigation?

Tubeworker is beginning to wonder just how major an incident has to be before Central Line management will carry out a formal investigation.

Tree falling by the line and damaging trains? Nah. Tunnel roof falling in? Nah. Stabbing causing serious injuries? Nah.

Management seem to think that all these can be dealt with by local reports or 'workshops'. Perhaps that makes it easier for them to gloss over their own failings and blame staff? Without a formal investigation, who knows?

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Wot No Formal Investigation?

Tubeworker is beginning to wonder just how major an incident has to be before Central Line management will carry out a formal investigation.

Tree falling by the line and damaging trains? Nah. Tunnel roof falling in? Nah. Stabbing causing serious injuries? Nah.

Management seem to think that all these can be dealt with by local reports or 'workshops'. Perhaps that makes it easier for them to gloss over their own failings and blame staff? Without a formal investigation, who knows?

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Get Sick, Get Sacked?

Two recent cases of what might well amount to disability discrimination have shed further light on how LU treats its staff.

Two workers "failed" their probations, both due to attendance issues related to serious physical conditions. (Read more here.)

Behind empty phrases about its "duty of care" and commitment to equal opportunities, the fact is that LU treats sickness punitively. It punishes us for getting ill.

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Mind The Gap

According to stats dug out by a Freedom of Information request, PTI incidents have been increasing at such a rate that there were five times as many in 2014 than in 2003. The number of incidents rose every year between these two.

On what planet is the appropriate response to this to cut station staffing?!

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