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can someone please tell me if I am going mad but earlier today I was at St Pancras (half built) station and witnessed the following...


Three CTRL contractors, all of whom were wearing hard hats, full body harnesses and high visibility jackets drove a small scissor lift into the centre of the station near the ticket office (the station wasn't that busy at 2pm on saturday afternoon) one of the men put out 5 barrier posts around the base of the scissor lift and erected a temporary chain fence, the second man produced a clipboard and observed the procedure, the third man clipped his harness to the edge of the scissor lift and began his heady ascent to a whole five foot, from where he could reach the BNC coming out the back of the CCTV camera and could adjust it, in complete safety. This whole procedure took about 20 mins, for what I could/would have done with a small step ladder in 3...


Now I feel this is completely over the top, and goes some way to explaining why St Pancras isn't going to be finished until 2008 and why my train tickets cost so much ( I know the two aren't directly related but...) or is this normal behavior amongst you H&S freaks?



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I know railway stations have always been hot on H&S, and at a guess it is coupled in with their super-hot security policy (ever been asked to prove your idendity and reason for being somewhere by gunpoint at 6am? I have Waterloo Station year 2000)


I was made to wear hi-viz, and it has to be orange, not the usual saturn yellow, to PAT a station's catering outlets, I have been made to wait two hours for my company to verify my ID and purpose, see above. The super tight precautions are for security partly, orane jackets are rarer and slightly harder to find wihtout arco or parker accounts, I know, I've done it (for my hobby of motorsport marshalling) and a larger minimum group of contractors taking a long time to do something is more obvious than someone rushing up to a place sticking ladders up and rushing off, so less to worry about.


The main reason is, you were there to watch it. I presume you do not work for CTRL, or any other railway company, so were there as a member of the public. To work in the public space on a saturday afternoon, as oppose to a saturday night, when the station can be closed, involves members of the public, who we all know, will try anything to get a bit of compensation, so the roping off, and fastening in will have been a serious precaution against things like that, as will have been the observer. Moving a powered access device around is not easy, and even less so when dealing with the public, as is anything.


Plus, it's a saturday and the old overtime play comes into force, where the more people you need, the better is the rule.

I have witnessed a major utility guy have one or two men on site until a quarter to 5 (or 6, I forget now) then suddenley their men outnumber the rest of the people on site, because they are all on nice overtime agreements, and this job suddenly got a lot more difficult.... Oh, Really?

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Having spent a year on the railways it doesn't surprise me.


Don't forget the time that will have been spend by someone writting a method statement and risk assessment back in the office, possibly before passing it back to NotWork Rail for signing off before work begins. Then the worker will have to hold a ticket for the machine, the guy with the clip board may well have had to have been through several courses to enable him to set up a safe system of work.


The orange HiVis is so train drivers don't confuse workers with a green signal. Likewise you aren't meant to wear red or green when working on the track.


It was an eye opening time. I wasn't allowed to use a shovel. I've been digging holes for 24 years and not killed anybody with a shovel yet I didn't hold a ticket for them. When we were working on site there were a legion of people involved in setting up the 'Safe Systems of Work'. You'd have your 'Controller Of Site Safety' (COSS) who'd then have 1-5 lookout men (depending on the required sighting distances), then me and the guy doing the survey. Having an Intercity 125 hurtle past at 100mph 10' from you always set the adrenaline flowing.

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I knew orange hi-viz was for a reason, like wise in motorsport, but this time saturn yellow hi-viz is a colour used for the yellow flag, which could badly affect a race if a rider sees a jacket and thinks a flag.


What got me in the six months I spent PAT testing catering outlets on stations was why I had to wear one, inside buildings, where the trains (normally) don't go and in the concourses, which are full of the public wearing all colours anyway?


But then again, track work is different from stations, in as much as the trains are moving there, so all the Safe Systems of Work have a very real purpose?

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As a scissor lift instructor in a previous incarnation (before quitting and going to Uni) I would guess that the two extra people were for front and rear escort while moving through a public area. Whenever a scissor lift or cherry picker is in use, it is necessary to have a groundsman to ensure safety from ground level. (there are controls at ground level in case of emergency.) As for not doing this from a ladder, IIRC it is now recommended that ladders are used as a means of access, not as a working area. Work should only be carried out from a ladder where no safer method is available/practical.

All the above is paraphrased and subject to my dodgy memory.

[Donning flameproof overalls (orange of course)]


Dave J

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