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The Shield



ISSUE 32, MAY 2021

WHEN it comes to safety, the team at Huntley and Palmer’s Bridge are certainly not half baked. Workers at the former biscuit factory site in Reading have been making sure a replacement for the historic bridge was installed safely, tidily and with minimal risk of injury to themselves or members of the public. You can find out more about the project on pages 4 and 5.

RAKE THAT! A tidy site is a safe site, say the team replacing a historic bridge Safe and sustainable

Shocking risks

Decades of experience







First Person Welcome to the May edition of The Shield . In this issue you’ll find stories on sustainability, community support, some of our Easter deliveries and a focus on electrical safety. You can read about how the Huntley and Palmer team manage people and plant activities (pages four and five), while behavioural expert Peter Brown also looks at the good and bad when it comes to safety (page seven). I was fortunate enough to see first-hand our teams’ efforts on various planned

The Shield This paper is produced for:

schemes over the Easter holiday. It’s a credit to all involved to see them pull together in the limited time available. Many Close Calls were raised allowing our teams to investigate and find trends so we can make informed decisions on future initiatives. Two current areas that stand out are the number of hand injuries and people still walking into restricted/exclusion zones. We are currently addressing both areas and have started working with all


Gareth White, operations manager for BAM Nuttall


COMMUNITY? OF COURSE WE WOOD! A TEAM carrying out electrification and power work in Kent are not just improving the railway for passengers, they are helping restore local woodland for wildlife and residents. Workers cleared silt from approximately 200 metres of the river alongside the railway line in Petts Wood near Orpington, and also installed new signposts, reinstated a footpath and repaired fences. They also helped relocate a number of bat boxes previously installed by Network Rail. Matthew Annoot, project manager for BAM Nuttall, said: “This woodland has been ever so important to the local community during lockdown for their mental health and wellbeing. Because our compound was set up in the middle of a community car park, we’ve been very conscious of the impact that we’ve been having but the community has been patient, and this is a little ‘thank you’.” The project work at Petts Wood is bringing the cable routing of the TP Hut up to compliance from an emergency recommissioning several years ago after a lightning strike. The work will also increase the asset life of the system and improve operational safety.

Written and designed by:

principal contractors around the use of Close Calls, and changing methods to reduce hand injuries. It’s been noticed that not all operatives wear their PPE at all times and often there is a poor selection of PPE for task. We welcome any ideas you believe will make a difference so please get in touch. In the meantime, enjoy this issue.

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS Elsewhere in Kent, a BAM team has been helping a school for children with complex learning difficulties replant a community garden. The garden in Snodland near Maidstone was cleared to enable a bridge refurbishment. Now the garden is ready to

Pett project: The Petts Wood team at work

MORE than 11,000 tonnes of spoil from embankment slips was removed by rail rather than road during emergency work in High Brooms, Kent recently – helping reduce the carbon boot print of the job. Three landslips on the Tonbridge to Hastings railway line, led to a 20-day, round-the-clock blockade in February as a team led by BAM Nuttall, worked to repair the damage and make the line safe. Spoil from the bottom half of the slope was directly loaded onto engineering trains, while spoil from the crest was taken to a nearby field using tracked dumpers and stockpiled close to the line for loading onto further engineering trains. Around 11,200 tonnes of material was removed this way, saving the equivalent of 1,320 lorry journeys along a narrow access road. “Given the access restrictions on Powder Mill Lane, and the need to respect surrounding residents and the environment, this was a much more effective and efficient solution,” said BAM section engineer George Davies.“It helped reduce the overall carbon footprint of the scheme, saving 122.97 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.” Further road vehicle journeys were saved by running a pipe from a local water source, rather than relying on a bowser. The team also carried out planned work further down the track during the possession, all of which was completed without any accidents.

Club together: The BAM team in Clapham replant, pupils at Five Acre Wood Special School have been asked to choose the type of plants they would like the team to install once lockdown rules allow. Juliette Williams, team manager at Five Acre Wood school, said: “We can’t wait to get down there and get the plants in. The students really enjoyed doing the research.” CLUB TOGETHER BAM staff also had an ace up their sleeve when it came to supporting

the community in South London. A team from BAM helped refurbish the Ace of Clubs centre in Clapham, which has supported some of the most vulnerable people in the area for 25 years. Martin Reyes, the club’s manager of centre operations and caseworking, said: “we will now be able to make better use of our space and hopefully support more people. I think it will be many years until we have the opportunity to do this again.”

Work in progress: High Brooms

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


DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN A SHOCKING SITUATION They may not happen often, but when they do, electricity accidents can be catastrophic

DESPITE the obvious dangers, accidents involving electricity on the railway are thankfully rare. When they do happen though, the consequences are often life changing. In the Southern region, during the 13 periods from April 2020 to March 2021 for example, there was only one lost time accident due to electricity. This incident, however, resulted in a rail worker being in hospital for nearly a week and having nearly a month off work. In that instance the worker received an electric shock when working on a distribution board that had been incorrectly wired. In the last three periods there was one other event that while no harm was done, would likely have caused significant injury or worse. It is this potential for harm which is measured by Southern Shield’s Risk Barometer. The Barometer measures the actual harm from real accidents and compares this against the potential harm that could have occurred. It also looks at non-injury events such as Close Calls or observations from inspections. The serious nature of electrical injuries is a reason why working with electricity is covered by two specific Lifesaving Rules. And it’s also why the Southern Shield’s Electrical Safety Group (ESG) is working to highlight the risks and best safety practices when working on or about electrical equipment and systems. The Track Access Working Group continues to review the arrangements for those undertaking strapping activities. “The rail industry is unique in having a live exposed conductor rail which is part of the working area,” said Danny Aisthorpe, head of engineering for Siemens and ESG lead. “We are all familiar with electricity in our everyday lives but on the railway traction energy levels are extraordinarily high. If a person inadvertently comes into contact

with a live conductor rail at ground level, you very rarely get as second chance – it will likely be a life changing event. You can’t hear, see or smell electricity but it can do incredible damage.” SAFETY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY The ESG is working with frontline teams around four key areas: assessing risk, setting people to work, tools and equipment and PPE – which includes training and competency assessments. Danny added: “The ESG was set up to improve electrical safety and to develop clear guidelines for workers. We have produced best practice guides on a range of topics, including working on or near electrical equipment, recommendations for test equipment and procedures for its safe use. We have also mandated the use of arc flash PPE in Southern Shield as part of The Charter.” The ESG also explores innovative new safety technology, including visual indicators on track to show the limits of an isolation, while the roll out of NSCD is described by Danny as a game changer for safety. “Carrying out isolation in a controlled environment from a safe access point, as NSCD enables, reduces the need for people going into the four foot and applying straps. It’s transformational for electrical safety.” Safety ultimately revolves around everyone on site being properly briefed and following the Lifesaving Rules and Safe Systems of Work. Danny added: “Regular updates to briefings are so important, especially if anything has changed as happened with a serious incident at Godington in 2018.Water had leaked into a substation after a storm one night. It was something that may not have appeared significant to those working there the next day, but it proved disastrous. “The golden rule is to never assume equipment is isolated – always test before touch.”


The Southern Shield Charter includes specific electrical protocols to help get everyone home safe every day. These include the Safety in Substations Matrix, DC Isolations and Live Conductor Rail Protocol. You can download a copy of The Charter at: southernshield.co.uk

SAFETY IN NUMBERS Some of the key safety stats for April 2020 to March 2021

Number of hours worked


Lost time accidents

Hand injuries (including fingers, arm and wrist) injuries





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 semicircle) indicates the level of potential harm that could have occurred from these actual events and other noninjury events, such as Close Calls. LO W

Total injuries


Close Calls raised


This means 1 person injured for every 136k hours worked






Operational stats


of worksites handed back with no train delays


Number of Operational Close Calls


Number of points run through


Never assume equipment is isolated –always test before touch




CRUNCH TIME The Shield visits the Huntley and Palmers bridge replacement at ‘Biscuit Tunnel’ – where the team have plenty of safety information to digest SOME of Britain’s favourite tea-time snacks once passed through what is now a pedestrian and cycle path below a present-day railway bridge in Berkshire. Biscuit Tunnel, as it is known, was used to transport biscuits by steam train from the famous Huntley and Palmers factory in Reading. The steam trains and the factory have long since gone but the present-day railway passes above the tunnel on a bridge dating back to the 1800s. Having reached the end of its life, the bridge was demolished and then replaced with a precast structure during a weekend possession in March. Weeks of planning and temporary works preceded this, including laying around 360 tonnes of stone and concrete slab to support the selfpropelled modular transporter (SPMT) which carried out the installation, while protecting buried services below. A scaffold cable bridge and cantilever walkway were also put in place. Work continued afterwards to remove spoil from the demolition, break up and remove the

concrete slab and to make sure the passageway was safe, clean, tidy and ready to reopen to the public.

EXCLUSION ZONES Public safety was one prime concern during the work but with space limited, site manager for Osborne, Adam Hinge, explained that keeping workers and plant safely apart was another. “With so much going on, and with up to 30 people on site any one time, making sure the exclusion zones were all correct and well maintained was vital,” said Adam. “We had to be particularly careful that protection was in place around the edges of excavations and that there was plenty of room for people to work.” On a busy site with multiple specialist contractors doing a variety of different and complex jobs, good planning and communication is key. “There are regular changes on site, so we keep everyone briefed on this,” said Adam. “It’s

important everyone is clear not just about what they are doing and when but what others are doing too. “We have regular question and answer sessions at briefings and a culture of speaking up and speaking honestly really does keep people safe.” Before the work, trains on the Reading to Wokingham line had been running at lower speeds over the bridge to protect pedestrians and cyclists below. The newer structure will mean faster, safer journeys for passengers and a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists. Adam added: “We’ve had good feedback on the quality of the job but for me, keeping everyone safe is the most important thing.”


Broken biscuit: Demolition of the old bridge

l Huntley and Palmers provided biscuits for Captain Scott’s 1910 expedition to the South Pole. l The firm manufactured over 400 different types of biscuits over the years including the ‘Nice’ biscuit. l Osborne was an appropriate contractor for this site as it was also the name of one of Huntley and Palmers oldest varieties. The ‘Osborne’ biscuit was named after Queen Victoria’s home on the Isle of Wight.

Never enter the agreed exclusion zone, u


MEET THE BISCUIT TUNNEL BRIGADE Name: Saff Ahmed Job: Assistant site manager, Osborne Favourite biscuit: Custard Cream “This is my first project as assistant site manager. A key part of my role is to make sure everyone on site is properly briefed, inducted and aware of the specific risks on this site. It’s also important to keep reminding them of the risks so there’s no complacency. We have an interface with the public here, so their safety is something we have to consider – like with our own team we need to make sure the proper exclusion barriers and signage is in place, so that they don’t go anywhere near plant or live work. In my short time on the railway I’ve been impressed with the Stop! Think and Feel Safe to Ask culture. I always feel happy challenging others and being challenged!”

Name: Dave Stebbings Job: Senior foreman, Osborne Favourite biscuit (or is it a cake?): Jaffa Cake “Most of my time is spent outside alongside the frontline teams ensuring work is done to the correct quality and safety standards. Having a good relationship with everyone is important – people who are happy and comfortable are also safer and feel okay to raise any concerns if they do see something wrong. I also check whether the correct plant and materials are being used and if people have the right PPE. Compulsory PPE, especially glasses and gloves, is definitely the biggest improvement in my 30 years in the business.”

Name: Sean O’Toole Job: Supervisor/foreman, TJ Civil Engineering Favourite biscuit: Jaffa Cake “On this job we had to be aware of buried services. We scan any area we plan to dig with a cable avoidance tool. If it indicates anything below, we dig trial holes to establish what’s hidden, and if necessary, we hand dig the hole to avoid any cable or water strikes. Another good safety device we use are radio ear protectors, which allow a plant operator to communicate clearly with the banksman. It enables much safer movement of plant. I remember days when it seemed anyone could jump on and operate a piece of plant – thankfully now all the competencies and training required make things much safer.”

Green and tidy Safety and sustainability went hand in hand at Biscuit Tunnel as the team demonstrated with their approach to recycling waste material. As well as separating and sorting the material into different types, where possible any ‘clean’ aggregate was handed back to the supplier to reuse – reducing both cost and waste.

unless directed to by the person in charge

Name: Tom McDonough Job: Operative, TJ Civil Engineering Favourite biscuit: Honeycomb Club “I do a whole variety of labouring jobs on site, often whatever needs doing at the time! In a busy site like this communication is the most important thing for keeping everyone safe. That starts with the first briefing but continues every time there’s a new task or something changes. It means you don’t get hurt and also that you don’t do anything that might hurt someone else. I often work alongside my uncle Sean (O’Toole) and his son Ryan, my cousin, and we are all on the job together. That’s a great help as I’m quite new to the railway, so I learn a lot from them.”





EGGS-ELLENT EFFORT Pulling together to deliver planned works safely over Easter

THERE was another successful and safe programme of work across the region over the Easter holiday. Work included projects at six high profile sites, including three DWWP redranked sites and was completed with only a couple of minor incidents. At a red-ranked site in Feltham West London, major work on a re-signalling project included the recommissioning of Strawberry Hill level crossing. Hythe Street bridge was replaced at a red-ranked site near Dartford in Kent, while workers at the third red-ranked site in Guildford, Surrey, delivered major switches and crossings (S&C) renewal and nine track circuit conversions. Elsewhere, work included wet bed removal at New Cross and S&C refurbishment and heavy plain line refurbishment at Charing Cross. Work also took place at level crossings at Crowhurst Bridge and Battle Road in East Sussex. At Shere Heath in Surrey, Works Delivery Wessex successfully installed a pedestrian footbridge and timber renewals on two bridges over the River Wey, as well as heavy plain line refurbishment. The weekend also saw the renewal of 192 yards of plain line between Grove Park and Chislehurst in South East London. “All of the capital delivery projects in the southern region were successfully delivered as planned, safely and without any injuries,” said Darren Colderwood, Southern capital delivery director. “We carried out vital works at 147 sites over the Easter bank holiday that will help to provide a better service for our passengers.”



Never undertake a job unless you have








e been trained and assessed as competent

THERE’S not much Peter Brown can’t teach us about safety behaviours – good and bad. The former military man, who also has 21 years’ experience in construction health and safety, works as a behavioural expert for Costain – visiting sites, training supervisors and helping front line operatives make better, safer decisions. As part of that role, he spends two days a week at Gatwick Airport station, helping the team understand the factors that lead people to take risks. “My focus is on what I call ‘real safety’, ” he Peter Brown explains. “Having safety briefings and toolbox talks is important but what also matters is what people actually do when they pick up tools. “We know the vast majority of incidents are caused by human behaviour not processes. That’s where I come in – to observe what is actually happening and to help teams find a solution when behaviour puts people at risk. It’s about bringing safety to life and ensuring it’s not just a tick box exercise.” ASKING QUESTIONS Peter says it’s important to be seen as a trusted advisor rather than a safety policeman. Key to that is building relationships with individuals and challenging behaviour in the right way. “A lot of my role is about asking questions rather than telling people what to do. For example, if I see some materials not properly stored or unsecured, I’ll ask someone ‘could you store those in a better way’. It encourages people to engage with the problem and come up with their own answer.” RECOGNISING WRONG BEHAVIOURS All behaviour, right or wrong, is the result of a prompt says Peter. Recognising and resolving these is the key. “I might watch someone walk down a vehicle route instead of using the walkway, so I’ll do a very quick analysis – what prompted them to do that? Maybe it’s 10 metres to the stores using the road, whereas it’s 200 metres using the walkway. “I’ll involve the whole team, show them the problem and ask them how we remove the things prompting unsafe behaviour. Can we shorten the walkway, or add an extra access gate? “Rather than just telling people not to do something, it’s about encouraging them to recognise the wrong behaviours themselves. That’s how you achieve long term change. “At Gatwick a problem arose where workers were dropping litter in the car park. “Rather than simply place more bins, we showed the team pictures of the rubbish, and everyone agreed we could do better. So now we take daily photos and show them at each briefing.As it continued to improve, we thanked people but stressed the need to keep it up. It’s important to repeat the message to change bad habits into good ones.” Front line safety engagement at Gatwick Airport is among the best in the business, Peter says. “I really enjoy working with operatives,” he added. “They are the experts who deliver the work every day, so you have to involve them as much as possible. We want people to enjoy doing the right thing. “If we create the right environment, behaviour will match the standards we set – and that has a knockon effect for safety and performance.”




‘YOU NEVER STOP LEARNING’ The past three decades have seen the railway business change beyond recognition – and Mick Reeve has worked through all of them Mick Reeve, who works as an S&T installation team leader for Siemens, hangs up his hard hat in May after more than 29 years in the industry. Having started with British Rail on the original Channel Tunnel route back in November 1991, he’s seen first-hand how safety and welfare have improved over the years. “One of the best things is that working hours and fatigue are now more closely monitored than they ever were back in the day,” reflects Mick. “As much as we all liked to chase the pound back then, there were times when you could easily work over 72 hours a week. Sometimes doorto-door time could exceed 14 hours. With today’s fatigue programmes and Siemens’ 12-hour door-to-door policy, these practices are no longer seen as acceptable.” Another big change has been around manual handling. Mick recalls how training in this area was either very basic or non-existent when he started. “Generally, the stronger you were the more you lifted,” he says. “But training is now much more professional and the introduction of new lightweight materials and equipment means staff are a lot less likely to suffer back or muscular injuries.” The biggest risk on any site remains complacency, especially if you’ve been a long time in the job, Mick explains. “You might think you know everything but you always have to keep learning. The rules are there for a reason – to save lives. If you do find yourself being complacent, remember to Take Five and think about what you are doing. There are plenty of dangers

on track – things like live rails are there all the time. They don’t take a day off, they’ll get you if you are complacent.” A GOOD BOND As he leaves the industry Mick hopes that good training and strong, multiskilled teams will remain at the heart of good safety and delivery on any project. “In British Rail days we were all permanent and assigned to a regular team. We lived and breathed the railway, we all knew our strengths and weaknesses and held all the competencies required to do each other’s jobs. This led to a good bond when working together and everybody looked out for each other’s safety. “It’s harder to build a good team bond with contractual staff who are only required for a couple of days – weekend warriors as they are known. “I would also like to see more women in the construction side of our profession. I can probably count on one hand the number of women I’ve worked with on S&T installation. The railway used to be thought of as just hard graft, but these days it’s much more scientific and technological. There should be plenty of opportunities to encourage women into the industry.” One of the most important lessons Mick has learnt over his career is the importance of good ground rules, clear channels of communication and proper site supervision. He says: “Don’t be afraid to bring your own ideas up in meetings and never be afraid to listen to people with less experience than yourself. You will be surprised at what people can bring to a project.”

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The Shield May 2021  

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