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The Shield




ISSUE 31, MARCH 2021

ON TOP FORM HIGH standards while working at height, a ‘speak-up’ culture and pride in a job well done are among the reasons the Eastbourne station team have scooped three consecutive gold ratings. The team from BAM Nuttall is certainly used to being on top – not only because much of the work involved in the station revamp is carried out on the roof. After scoring their golden hat-trick, they went on to make it four awards in five periods after improving some site housekeeping that saw them briefly lose top spot in the Route to Gold initiative. You can find out more about how they keep up the good work on pages 4 and 5.

Praise for rescuers

Holiday works complete

Safety in custody







First Person WELCOME to the first issue of The Shield for 2021. As usual it features examples of work delivered to the highest safety standards but also reminders of what can happen when we make poor decisions or don’t speak up when something seems wrong. Let me introduce myself, and share why safety is so important to me. As I was growing up, my father was a mechanic. Looking back, I realise the risks that he took – risks that today we would not be comfortable taking ourselves. At the age

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of 16 I secured a place as an engineering apprentice and spent many years in the car industry. It was a great place to develop project delivery skills, but not always as positive for safety. It always felt as if the product came before the workforce, and that never sat well with me. Like everyone on the safety leadership team, I am passionate about ensuring everyone goes home safe. I’ve seen first-hand the impacts of that not being the case – it inspires me to do the best I can for the team.

NEIGHBOURS WHO CARE I’m keen to strengthen the relationship between Network Rail and our supply chain partners, as when we have trust between us, the safety challenge is easier for us to tackle together. Darren Colderwood, Southern region capital delivery director, Network Rail

TWO rail operatives have been praised for stepping in quickly and safely to prevent a possible fatality. Supervisor Luke Togneri and operative Carl Gardner were preparing for overnight canopy improvement works at Balham station in South London around midnight on 19 December, when they noticed a couple acting strangely on the platform. The couple’s erratic behaviour continued for some minutes and with both of them standing beyond the yellow line at the platform edge, Luke and Carl moved towards them to try and usher them to a safer place. Moments later, as a train entered the station, the woman moved towards it, but Luke was able to pull her away before he and Carl helped the pair away from the platform.

a bad way, the woman had clearly been quite upset and the man had been calling for help just before she moved forward. In this job you are always keeping an eye out for what’s going on around you. I also thought about how the train driver must have felt seeing them on the platform edge. We could see what was unfolding so it was just second nature to try and keep them safe.” Luke and Carl, who work for Shutdown Maintenance Services, have been recognised with a Southern Shield Making a Difference award for their actions. Gareth White, operations manager for BAM Nuttall and member of the safety leadership team, said: “Without their bravery and selflessness, we would have been facing a very different outcome that evening. They should both feel very proud of their actions.” Luke added: “I’ve seen some strange and some nasty things but never a situation like this. I like to think anyone else would have done the same thing.”



John Dowsett, managing director, infrastructure for Osborne, added: “It is heartening in current times that our teams can have such a positive impact in our community, while completing essential upgrade work. It is fantastic to hear that the community will be sorry to see us go.”


SECOND NATURE By this time, a foreman from BAM Nuttall and the station supervisor were also at the scene and an ambulance had been called. Luke said: “They appeared to be in

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STAFF from One Team Wessex who have completed year-long remedial work to an embankment, have been given a fond farewell from staff and residents at a care home next to the site. As well as making the embankment safe for trains on an important passenger route, One Team Wessex has carried out work outside Milford House in Laverstock, Wiltshire, including raised beds, fencing and paving. Marie-Therese Tiernan, the home’s general manager, said: “Everyone at the home has been amazed at the amount of work taking place. “We have had a fantastic relationship with the team and they have been so considerate and helpful throughout their time on site.”

EMERGENCY work was carried out to stabilise a railway embankment which was showing signs of slipping. Heavy rainfall in the first few days of 2021 had caused significant movement on a section of the embankment beside an important stretch of the line between Horley and Salfords stations in Surrey. The movement had been picked up by monitoring systems, and a 5mph speed restriction was put in place before a team worked around the clock to stabilise the embankment over the course of three days. A series of sitespecific measures helped ensure operatives’ safety during the work. Guy Keep, Package Manager for BAM Nuttall, said: “We had robust ALO (any line open) controls in place and a Safe System of Work which included plastic

net fencing installed in the 10-foot, as well as site wardens present to maintain safety protocols.” Route asset manager (Geotechnics, Drainage and Off Track), Network Rail, Derek Butcher, said: “The age and construction of this Weald clay embankment, combined with the recent very wet weather, led to it starting to move. The solution of installing sheet piles at this section will last for a hundred years and the £2m overall repair is designed to make sure the embankment is resilient now and to climate change we are likely to experience in the future.” Further stabilising work is continuing at the site. You can watch videos of the work in action on the Network Rail Kent and Sussex Twitter feed: twitter.com/NetworkRailSE

Making a difference

Carl Gardner

The Southern Shield Making a Difference awards recognise colleagues who have gone above and beyond in the pursuit of safety. Nominations selected by the safety leadership team each receive a thank you letter and a £50 voucher. To nominate a colleague email: shield@networkrail.co.uk

Validium Did you know that Southern Shield provides a free, confidential service for information, advice or counselling through Validium?

Luke Togneri

You can contact the service on 0800 358 4569 or join vclub online at: validium.com Username: southernshield Password: homesafe

A GREAT FREIGHT JOB IMPROVEMENTS to the railway at a vital location on the UK freight network have been completed with no lost time injuries. A series of line closures took place during January and February in the Southampton area to commission a new signalling system, the final part of improvements that will allow longer 775-metre trains access to freight terminals operated by GBRF, DBC and Freightliner.

The Port of Southampton is the second busiest container port in the country. As well as taking lorries off the roads, the work will unlock more capacity for rail services across the area and enable more freight to be transported between Southampton, the Midlands and beyond. The work was delivered in three phases with initial phase track works beginning in December 2019.

want us to feature your team? get in touch at shield@networkrail.co.uk


THE HOLE STORY Excavations are another area of work where accident figures alone don’t tell the full safety story


AS WORKERS returned to rail sites after Christmas and New Year, Back to Work briefings provided a vital part of the re-start. Thousands of rail colleagues worked over the holiday period but for those who had been away, briefing sessions played a vital role in making sure it was a safe return with no unpleasant, or dangerous, surprises in store. The briefings are designed to bring workers up to speed with any new machinery, revised site layouts, and changes to access routes. Their aim is to prevent incidents such as in 2014 where a worker fell three metres through a suspended ceiling on their return to work. They had bypassed their briefing and therefore were not aware of changes to the scaffold. As well as directly reducing the risk of physical harm, they are also an opportunity to get people talking about safety and welfare and engaging with each other after a break.

We asked Nick Freeman, project manager for Osborne at Ashmead in Hampshire, to talk us through what makes for an effective briefing: MAKE IT TOPICAL – Discuss topical issues, especially around COVID-19 measures in place at your site. Here, we have an operative on the entrance who asks everyone arriving if they have an increased temperature or a new persistent cough or if family members have had symptoms.


KEEP IT REAL – Use real life examples with facts and figures – at Ashmead we updated teams on the latest, increased COVID-19 infection rates; but… EXCAVATION is a common activity on the railway. And while things may have come a long way since the days of shovels and unprotected trenches, there are still plenty of hazards that can bite anyone not taking care. For example, during installation of drainage works at a site in the east of England a supervisor suffered a broken pelvis after being struck by a lump of earth that became dislodged from the vertical face of a threemetre-deep trench. The agreed methodology for the work included the use of trench boxes. However, for two hours work on this site was undertaken without the

trench box being used. Other underlying causes included a lack of communication about the physical restraints in the work area. Another particular concern was that unsafe behaviours and conditions had gone unchallenged due to poor perception of the risks by those involved in the work, while learning from similar events had not been actioned. POTENTIAL HARM The issue of risk versus perception is something Southern Shield’s Risk Barometer seeks to highlight. The barometer measures the actual harm from real accidents and compares this against the potential harm that

THE RISK BAROMETER In the barometer the short hand (inner semi-circle) points to the level of actual harm from accidents in the last 13 periods. The long hand (outer semi-circle) indicates the level of potential harm that could have occurred from these actual events and other non-injury events, such as Close Calls.









could have occurred. It also looks at non-injury events such as Close Calls or observations from inspections. During the 13 periods up to Period 10 there were no accidents while undertaking excavations. At face value this may seem like good news, however in three periods alone there were eight reported events that had the potential for significant injuries – like the incident above. “The majority of Close Calls relating to excavations during this year, were due to a lack of edge protection, and where there was the potential for someone (even a member of the public) to be seriously injured if they fell in,” said Geoff Norman, principal health and safety manager, Network Rail. “However, potentially more serious events were also reported, such as an excavation filling up with water and increasing the risk of the sides giving out due to a lack of shoring, and of a benched excavation slipping while workers were on a break. “In another, machinery was working too close to the edge of an excavation with no controls to prevent it falling in. This incident is similar to what occurred at Weybridge in early 2020, when an operative working in a trench was seriously injured when they were struck by a machine.” Other concerns include undertaking excavations without a scan prior to or during digging and permits to dig not being in place, or being incorrectly or insufficiently completed.

Everyone home safe every day

MAKE IT FRIENDLY – Engage with the group and have a conversation with them – ask them about their weekend, holiday or family. BE AWARE OF MIND AND BODY – Considering the group’s mental health is also very important, so ask people if they feel rested or about their journey to work. HAVE A TWO-WAY CONVERSATION – Get feedback on what has been discussed – ask for opinions, what do the team feel is right? How they feel about the working environment? And here’s what some of the Ashmead team said about the briefings: “It’s very important to check the site to see if anything has changed.” K. Singh, site manager for NW Rail “Before starting work we always check that all permits and paperwork are in place.” Gene Payne, supervisor for Osborne “It’s good that people take time to re-engage following a break.” Matt Wilson, senior site manager for Osborne “Doing Time Out Take Fives is a good thing as is having a chat about the day’s work and checking surroundings.” Nick Rutter, construction director, NW Rail





( ) THE EAST BO SUPRE The Shield meets a team that goes over and above to achieve gold-standard safety SETTING high standards is one thing – it’s another to maintain them and keep improving. That’s exactly what workers at Eastbourne station have done while delivering an extensive revamp that will improve the passenger experience at the historic seaside town in East Sussex. The team from BAM Nuttall was proud that theirs was the top scoring site in the Route to Gold safety and performance initiative for three periods in a row in 2020. But far from resting on their hardhats, they were determined to up their game and reclaim top spot in 2021 when another site won the gold. Work at the Victorian, Grade II listed station includes canopy refurbishment, slate roof replacement, masonry repairs and new roofing above the atrium. “There is a lot of working off scaffold towers, MEWPs and cherry pickers, so making sure everyone is properly trained and harnessed is our biggest safety consideration,” said Matt Jarvis, construction manager for Network Rail. “Protective netting helps reduce the risk of any materials falling and we also use tethered tools where we can. Noise and dust are a consideration as well. We need to keep these right down as some passengers are

using the station even during coronavirus restrictions. And, of course, we have clearly marked walkways and cordons to keep the public away from areas where we are working.”

SAFETY CONSCIOUS Staff welfare, especially during the pandemic, has also been a key issue. As well as all the usual distancing and hygiene measures the team were keen to find welfare facilities that were comfortable but didn’t take up room in the crowded site. The solution was to repurpose disused office space in a building next door. “Having a permanent building is a morale boost, especially when teams are working outdoors in winter,” says Matt. “You can’t always do that on remote sites but it’s a good idea in a town centre like this and it’s also helped improve the local area.” It’s a combination of planning, briefings, supervision and team behaviours all working together, that make Eastbourne a safety success. Even having a tidy compound is important. “It was a bit of untidiness which cost them a fourth consecutive gold,” says Matt. “The team was determined to get the gold back, so put in extra effort. When the standards are so high, you have to work even harder to improve.”

Always use a safety harness when working a


at height, unless other protection is in place


MEET THE TEAM SAM SNOOK Site foreman, BAM Nuttall “I oversee the work along with Ben Tritton who covers the night shift. COVID-19 has certainly made the work more challenging as some tasks are much more difficult to do at a distance. We all have concerns about keeping our families safe from the virus too, so we are very strong on cleanliness around site entrances and exits. “The job here isn’t just to put a roof on, it’s to put it on safely. Key to that is having experienced people who take pride in their work, as a job done well is one done safely. “In addition to the usual briefing, we’ve introduced a safety breakfast, where we all grab a bacon roll and look at a particular topic – anything from mental health to safety policy. It’s also another opportunity for workers to ask questions and for us to take away action points.”

EDDIE SIMMONS Slate tiler, GS Moore Roofing “My role means I spend a lot of my time working at height. I use a harness with lanyard where required, and we make a point of walking round the scaffold each day to check that everything is secure. “Rain and ice are the biggest dangers at this time of year and confined space on the roof is tricky, especially with COVID-19 restrictions. It’s human nature to work closely with people, so we have to be very vigilant. “Most of the team have been working together for years, so we are like a family. We have a responsibility for each other’s safety and trust each other to challenge any of us doing something wrong. Even after 40 years we can always learn. If an apprentice can show me a better way to do something, I’ll do it!”

KEVIN NOTTAGE Site supervisor, BAM Nuttall “I’m always on the lookout for trip hazards, items being left out overnight or not properly secured. Everyone knows I’m not afraid to speak up when something isn’t right, but they also understand exactly why it has to be done. If you don’t keep on top of these things, standards start to slip very quickly. “I enjoy interacting with people and getting to know the team. Building good working relationships is an important part of gaining each other’s trust. “Maintaining high standards is very important because we are working in a town centre. Even during lockdowns there are members of the public about, so we have to look out for their safety but also realise that we are working in public view. It’s good that we’ve achieved these high standards – we need to make sure it’s the everyday norm.”





HAUL THE DECKS Bridge deck replacement among work completed at 150 sites over the Christmas holiday




IT MAY have been a much quieter Christmas, with coronavirus restrictions keeping most at home, but colleagues were once again out in force to make sure vital work was carried out to keep the railway running. More than 150 work sites were handed back on time, meeting quality standards and with a good safety record. The work included five red-ranked sites. In Croydon, two bridge decks were replaced at Selsdon Road which will provide greater resilience and reduce the risk of future bridge strikes from tall vehicles. Work also included the installation of new ballast, sleepers and running rails. Junction renewals took place at Parks Bridge School Junction and at St John’s in Lewisham, where engineers replaced 1.5 miles of track, 7,500 tonnes of ballast and 1,460 sleepers, along with a number of switches and crossings. Junction work also took place at Nine Elms in South London, while at Cow Lane in Portsmouth an underbridge replacement was carried out using a road crane. This work took place close to an ambulance station which required 24-hour access.

ACCESS UPGRADE Work also continued at Gatwick Airport station, where the final span of the access bridge across platforms 3 to 7 was lifted into place. Enabling and drainage works also took place for a new building for airport employees, which is due to open in 2022. Efforts over Christmas mean the upgrade is now ahead of schedule. Darren Colderwood, southern capital delivery director, said: “I am completely in awe at the amount of work successfully delivered over the holiday period and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for giving up precious time with family and loved ones over Christmas and the new year. “There were a few incidents, including a wall collapsing at the Nine Elms site. Fortunately, no one was injured, and we are investigating the cause of the collapse. Our teams responded quickly and professionally but it’s important that we learn the lessons from these incidents.” You can watch a video of the Selsdon work at: networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/news

Always be sure the required plans and permits are in





place, before you start a job or go on or near the line





DAYS ON THE TRACK AND NIGHTS IN THE CELLS Construction manager Gene Brennan has a voluntary role that takes him to the sharp end of policing

MAKING sure workers are safe, and that rules are followed is a key part of Gene Brennan’s role on the railway. But away from his day job as a construction manager, Gene’s passion for helping others is put to good use, ensuring people in police custody are treated properly. Gene has worked on the railway for more than 40 years, but for the last few months he has taken on an additional voluntary role as an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV). An ICV is a member of the public who is able to visit police stations unannounced at any time of day or night. They are given access to all parts of the custody areas. They record information including numbers of officers on duty, the total number of people in custody, how many are male or female, and how many are adults, children or vulnerable people. They also talk to detainees. Their findings are reported to local Police and Crime Commissioners and policing authorities who hold chief constables to account. It’s a role that requires a certain temperament, experience and skills, but was something that appealed to Gene when he was looking to take on some voluntary work. “I wanted something that would really challenge me,” says Gene. “I saw this role on the gov.org site back in 2019 and it looked very interesting, so I started the application process.” DAY AND NIGHT It was January 2020, when Gene was told a position had become available on the Guildford ICV panel, managed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey. After an interview and background checks the training was due to start when the coronavirus pandemic struck. But after completing sessions via Zoom, Gene was ready for his first trip to the cells, observing two experienced ICVs during a visit in August. “A roster is drawn up every two months with a number of slots that we can choose. They vary across weekdays and weekends, and at all

times of day and night. It could be 3pm or 3am,” says Gene, who has since completed 10 visits. “I’m always paired with an experienced ICV. An escorting police officer is always nearby, although they have to let us speak to detained people in confidence. They might advise us of any detainees who are vulnerable or potentially dangerous but ultimately, it’s up to us who we talk to. “We ask each person for their permission to interview them and explain that we are members of the local community, nothing to do with the police. We let them know we are primarily concerned with their welfare and to check if they have been offered their legal entitlements. Often you see people who are very angry or distressed but they almost always calm down when they know who we are. “I’m comfortable with the atmosphere there and always feel safe. Making sure people’s welfare and legal rights are being looked after properly, so that the public can have confidence in the police, is a very rewarding role. It gives me another focus outside of work and it’s fascinating to see the policing process in action.” POSITIVE CHANGE Gene started out on the railway as a track maintenance worker in Surrey for British Rail in 1979. Attitudes to safety were very different then and it is the change in mindset that Gene feels has been the biggest positive change in rail safety. “There’s smarter planning, more documentation and we are much better at learning from when things do go wrong,” he says. “People take personal responsibility for safety and we talk about it. If I see someone behaving in an unsafe way, I’ll challenge them and I’ll get them to question and analyse their own actions. Years ago, we would have either just shouted at someone or done nothing. “It’s important to know how to speak to people in the right way – that applies both on site and in the custody suite.”

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The Shield March 2021  

The Shield March 2021