Health & safety issues on London's Transport
LUL staff are used to management playing fast and loose with safety rules during strikes. Now it seems that Metronet's management have caught on too.
Would you take a drink out of this?! Well, management seem to expect Bakerloo drivers to. Who knows what germs lurk within the water dispenser in the notorious Goldfish Bowl (the drivers' step-back room on the platform at the Elephant)?! There is a horrible stink, and the fridge is appalling too.
Barking sidings are so dark as to be unsafe. The measure for lighting levels is such that over 30 is OK, between 20 and 30 requires a risk assessment, less than 20 and the location should close until the problem is rectified. The level at Barking sidings? 4.
Staff on the gateline in the busy station where I work face abuse from customers regularly. It can make you angry, and can get you down after a while. Although we have to learn to deal with it and carry on doing our job, I feel that we should not just 'accept' or grow to 'expect' the abuse. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels hard to know how to deal with it.
When a flashing light that informs drivers of a temporary speed restriction between Euston and Kings Cross stopped working, Euston station initially tried to inform drivers via the service information board near the driver's cab.
It seems that Tubeworker can claim a victory! Why? At the recent Safety Forum, management agreed in principle to bring back Accident Books.
Union reps had originally allowed management to withdraw the books, but after Tubeworker drew attention to the potential problems, they took up the issue and pursued it to the top of the negotiating machinery.
Yesterday's derailment on the Central line was in the same place as another incident just six weeks ago. On May 21, a train struck a P-way storage bin left by the track, and was lucky not to derail. Union health & safety reps complained to management and demanded an investigation. This was not the first time that union reps had complained about lineside scrap in this area. Six weeks later, no investigation, no action ... and the inevitable derailment.
It appears that there has been an increase in PTI incidents, which is especially worrying since the PTI is already the most dangerous place on the Underground.
The reasons? Management's insightful initial response is that "the main issues seemed to be customers getting caught in the doors and falling while getting on/off trains." Well yes, but customers have been falling and getting caught for many years, and this observation does nothing to explain why the number of incidents has increased.
On the East End of the District Line the safety of staff and passengers are being put at risk to save money on Overtime. We at Tubeworker do not support the principle of overtime - we would rather there were enough staff to cover any eventuality. That said, LUL management have left us desperately short of cover staff so overtime has become a necessity to safely cover stations.
The DLR area at Bank has a constant problem with mice - which we could just about live with, so long as the pest control contractor removed the dead bodies within a few hours of the trap catching them. But if, say, a couple of mice are caught at the weekend, and the contractor doesn't actually turn up to remove them until the following Friday, then the stench becomes terrible, and we don't like to think of the germs that are multiplying and spreading around.
We all know that cleaning standards are not great on the Underground (not because of the cleaners themselves, but because of cowboy contractors and management's general disregard for safety standards). But few of us would have considered that we might risk facial paralysis just by touching some kit.
Tubeworker has reported previously on LUL's removal of Accident Books from workplaces - which, disappointingly, it seems that the unions did nothing to prevent.
LUL claims that the EIRF system covers the legal requirement to have an Accident Book, and has persuaded the spineless HMRI to rubber-stamp this. The big problem here is that, while every member of staff could pick up a pen and fill in an Accident Book should they be hurt, only certain staff have access to EIRFs. eg. Station Supervisors do, but CSAs don't. And drivers don't. And apparently, even union health & safety reps don't!
Victoria station needs asbestos removal, and management's plan is that the ticket office should be relocated to a Portakabin outside the mainline station upstairs for the duration of the works.
OK, so a station undergoing a refurb is never going to be the most comfortable place to work, but St Pauls became a nightmare. A mess room unfit to eat in, toilets unfit to use, staff feeling vulnerable on the gateline late at night cos the Supervisors' office has been temporarily relocated away from the ticket hall.
Metronet workers are missing their overalls. Apparently, Metronet owes the laundry company a shedload of money, so the laundry company won't return the overalls once cleaned!
P-Way staff at West Kensington got thoroughly fed up with the squalor of the P-Way Cabin. So what did they do? Put up with it? Moan to each other and do nothing? No, they refused to work on the grounds of health and safety and booked on at Griffith House instead.
A night station supervisor at Dagenham East station was disgusted to find the sanitary bin in the toilets overflowing and its contents spilling accross the floor. He reported the fault, but was told it couldn't be dealt with until late the following morning.
The tragic death of a Northern line driver highlights the important problem of spurious OPO alarms.
The OPO alarm is a crucial warning to the controller that something may have happened to a driver, but Northern line controllers receive so many spurious alarms that they are inevitably taken less seriously.
In depots, stations and offices across the Underground, managers are busily removing Accident Books. They reckon that recording staff accidents is adequately covered in the EIRF (Electronic Incident Reporting Form) system.
Tim O'Toole had a lucky escape recently. He visited a certain building where the fire alarm was not working!
Although the fault had been discovered at the previous week's test, we hear that it had still not been fixed by the time of the next weekly test.
London Bridge station has discovered the depths to which the cleaning contracts allow us to sink. Enquiring as to why the sanitary products disposal unit had not been empty for a while, they were told that, according to the contract, it only has to emptied when it is full.
The new sidings at White City are now in use. Shame about the walkways being dangerous. Oh, and as for the ready-to-start plungers ...
Last night at Bank, call point operation triggered an evacuation ... and the P.A. failed. No Inspector Sands, no P.A. from the control room, nothing.
With superhuman effort, the staff evacuated the complex in twenty minutes. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. Had it been a fire, people would have died.
Well thanks, LUL, for sending us all a nice little booklet about healthy eating. We don't feel in the least bit patronised.
What we'd prefer, though, is reasonable eating times, and access to canteens that sell affordable, nice, healthy food, and enough time to eat and digest it in comfort. Instead we have to eat at unnatural times of the day, in 30-minute meal break in shabby mess rooms.
The FIR into 2003's Chancery Lane derailment identified deployment of emergency detrainment ladders as one issue of concern. There were also concerns that in the aftermath of the bombings on 7th July last years, the ladders had proved difficult to remove.
A Supervisor at Snaresbrook took a trip to the khazi when something unexpected happened ... a light fitting fell on his head, knocking him out and necessitating a stay in hospital. Apparently, the contractors had used the wrong shaped fixing.
Management still have their heads in the sand over the cracked wheel sets on the Piccadilly line. They've had the whole fleet checked now, but don't seem to think there is a need to check them again in the foreseeable future.
The Piccadilly line fleet has a serious problem with cracks on wheel sets. On Wednesday (20th September), a driver reported a bang beneath his train. Although this was the first that drivers knew of it, it seems that management have been aware of this problem for more like ten days.
LUL and the Infracos have allowed even the most vital, safety-critical services to be contracted out. One result is a crisis of confidence in Protection Masters as the role is given to cowboy companies who do not train their people properly.
Finsbury Park closed today when station staff refused to work on safety grounds.
A local union safety rep was shocked to find that contractors had isolated fire detection devices in secure rooms without taking the steps in their Method Statement to ensure safety. So staff refused to work, and the problem was swiftly rectified. But quite rightly, station staff were not prepared to work with the Project Manager who had authorised this reckless risk-taking, and things stood at a deadlock until his booking-off time of 19:00.
Tubeworker: a platform for rank-and-file London Underground workers, telling you what the bosses and bureaucrats won't. Tubeworker reports on workplace issues, puts forward strategies that we think will help workers win, and supports militant, democratic trade unionism. It promotes unity and challenges inequality.
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