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The muck spreader - update

Readers may remember April's article in which I explained that safety reps in the North East were having trouble getting hold of a report into discharges from GNER Mallard trains.

Staff are convinced that the fine spray is from tanks used to store lavatory waste. This was borne out by a letter from Network Rail informing them of the problem and the steps GNER are taking to sort things out, hopefully by October this year.

A risk assessment from Network Rail, provided to on-track workers, gave no better advise than to 'turn your back' when a GNER is passing.

Six months is a long time and nothing positive can be reported. Health and safety reps, with the law on their side, have tried all ways to obtain the report but to no avail. Network Rail won't give them a copy. HMRI just refers them back to the union who tell them that they have right on there side.

The lads are asking "what are we being contaminated with?" and "what is the point of health and safety law if it's not upheld?" They need help but no one seems able to provide it. The health and safety army seems to have been neutered.
What is the point of health and safety law if it's not upheld?

It's hard to believe, with all the talk of the environment, health, safety and welfare, that workers can't find out what is been dumped on them, not to mention platforms and back gardens up and down the land. Passengers and the railway's neighbours don’t even seem to be considered - yet.

In its report number T051 (Discharge of toilet waste from trains onto the track), the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) looked at waste materials dropped onto platform lines from stationary trains. It said that toilet waste was less evident on running lines and claimed that, with the introduction of new stock with retention tanks, any problems would gradually diminish. The report is on its website for the world to read.

If Network Rail and GNER can't produce their own report in six months maybe RSSB should have another look at the problem. It looks as though both standards and safety are being compromised.

Two things seem certain. If railway offices were sprayed with this concoction on a daily basis something would have been done about it months ago. If the illusive report had given a clean bill of health to the discharge, safety reps would have had it through their letter box in a gold envelope the very next morning.

The summer's warming up and so is the smell. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.

Story added 1st June 2006

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