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ASLEF Trains Health and Safety Reps Coronavirus Q&A. 25/Sept/2020

Although we understand the importance of maintaining a service, from the very beginning of the pandemic we have prioritised the safety of our members. Senior ASLEF Health and Safety reps continue to meet with London Underground on a regular basis to deal with issues as they arise.

Some of the questions that members have asked are below. If you have any questions that are not covered please speak to your local ASLEF H&S rep or contact us here.

We will keep raising your concerns with management and do everything we can to ensure your working environment is as safe as possible.

Question: What is classed as ‘close contact’ in relation to the risk levels of transmitting Covid-19?

A: Close contact is defined by GOV.UK as 15 minutes at 2 metres distance from another person or 1 minute within 1 metre. You can find out more about what is classed as close contact here: www.gov.uk/covid-19-infection-who-do-not-live-with-the-person

Question: Does the Zoono application in train cabs provide me with 100% protection from Coronavirus?

A: No. Although trials have indicated that the virus is killed by the Zoono product, it is safer to act as if this protection is not present. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, after touching any equipment, use hand sanitiser regularly and wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds whenever you can.

Question: Is it really safe to resume in-cab training?

A: Nothing can ever be risk free, but your ASLEF Health and Safety and Industrial Relations Reps have insisted that all possible precautions are taken so that training restarts safely. Each layer of protection alone (masks, testing, visors/goggles) do not provide absolute protection, it is the combination of these together that ensure the risks are as low as possible.

Question: Can I refuse to take part in any in-cab training?

A: The in-cab training pilot is voluntary for both the I/Op and the trainee. Management will decide on their future approach after the trial and will have to take into account that some I/ops and trainees may not want to carry out training under these restrictions.

Question: What happens if someone on my train refuses to wear a mask and other passengers complain?

A: Staff are not expected to police the wearing of masks. Do not get involved in any debate or altercation and advise Service Control of the situation.

Question: What happens if a Passenger Emergency Alarm is operated on my train?

A: At a platform, advise Service Control and your passengers that a PEA has been operated.

If you go back to reset the alarm and you cannot maintain adequate social distancing then ask the passengers to vacate the saloon where the PEA has been operated.

On the rare occasions when a PEA is operated as you leave the platform, then you are advised to wear a mask (and visor if you have one) and make an announcement to the passengers that you will be making your way through the train and that they should make room for you to move through the train safely.

Question: Do I have to let a second person in my driving cab?

A: You should only let a second person in your cab for safety critical reasons like as a trip-cock failure.

Question: What if a fitter wants to get on my train?

A: Unless the fault is a serious one, such as ‘no forward movement’ etc then we do not regard the attendance of a fitter as safety critical. If you wish you may allow a fitter on board your train, but we recommend that you leave the cab before they enter it.

Question: What about staff checking our in-cab CCTV monitors?

A: This check is safety critical and a rule book requirement. You should leave the cab while the check is being carried out and ask that the member of staff does not touch any equipment in the cab.

Question: Do I need to shut the train down while the in-cab CCTV check is being carried out?

A: No. You can leave the key in and there is no need to shut the train down as you would lose the CCTV pictures that are being checked. LU are aware that the cab needs to remain ‘live’ and you will not be disciplined for stepping onto the platform in these circumstances.

Question: What should happen if I find vomit or body fluids on my train?

A: Due to the risks of transmission of Covid-19 the train should be taken out of service until it can be adequately cleaned. This can be done at a terminus or siding as well as a depot.

Question: Why can’t we have a barrier near the front and rear J Doors so that we can travel from one place to another?

A: . A barrier was introduced on the Bakerloo Line as they do not have a cab side door to leave the train. This barrier is primarily to give a clear path from the J Door to the saloon exit, not for somewhere for staff to sit. Management are not prepared to do this on other lines as it limits the capacity of the train which reduces the ability for social distancing and could cause conflict without adding any real protection against transmission of Covid-19.

We believe the rear cab is the safest place for train drivers when they need to travel from one location to another.

Question: I’m worried about travelling to and from work on public transport?

A: The Government Public transport is regard public transport as a safe way to travel if social distancing is maintained and the passengers wear face masks. If you are unable to board a busy train due to the lack of social distancing (1 metre apart with face coverings being worn) then wait for the next train.

Question: Do I need to wear a face mask in a train crew depot?

A: It is not compulsory to wear a face mask in a train crew area away from the public, we would recommend that you do so, while maintaining social distancing of 2 meters wherever possible to protect yourself and other people.

Question: What can I do if the mess room is overcrowded and has more people in it than the recommended number?

A: Speak to local management. They have a duty to act to reduce the numbers and spread people around the train crew accommodation. You should not feel pressured into having your ‘grub’ in an overcrowded room. Contact your ASLEF H&S rep if the problem is not solved.

Question: My mental health has suffered during the pandemic. Who can I go to for help?

A: Help such as the Headspace App, which is currently free to sign up to and the Silver Cloud programme at https://vhg.silvercloudhealth.com/signup/ (use code ‘TfLWell’) are available through London Underground. Due to the pandemic many people are going through a difficult time for many different reasons, although it may feel like it you are not alone! Don’t suffer in silence and if you have a colleague you can trust, sometimes a good chat can make a real difference.

Question: What is happening with CDP?

A: Management have stopped CDP because of the pandemic and temporarily replaced it with a ’Competence Verification’ check. You should be asked about any gaps in your potential knowledge (we have pointed out to LU how can you know what you don’t know!) and we would advise that you put in writing any concerns and gaps in your knowledge that you think you may have as LU have a duty to provide appropriate training.

Question: What about these licence extensions?

A: Where a drivers licence or ‘plan’ is about to run out it can be extended by 6 months provided checks are made, such as a review of the driver’s holistic record and an interview with the driver to discuss any concerns and check any gaps in knowledge. These licence extensions will be phased out as the ‘Competence Verification is rolled out.

Question: I have symptoms of Coronavirus what should I do?

A: Do not attend work, contact your local manager as per usual and book a test when available. You can book a test online here: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

You and your family must also self-isolate, further details here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/

Question: What news rules have just been announced?

A: You can find details of them here: https://www.gov.uk/what-has-changed-22-september

Question: What will happen if there is another lockdown, will they shut down the tube?

A: A second wave is upon us and further lockdown measures are likely. However, it is unlikely that the tube will shut although there is the potential for services to be ramped down depending on staff attendance and the number of cases of Covid-19 across London.

Question: How many people are allowed in a staff taxi at any one time?

A: We insisted early in the pandemic that only one passenger is allowed to travel in a taxi at a time. This has not changed.

Last updated 25th September 2020

Further info:

Coping with mental health problems during Coronavirus:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coping-with-mental-health-problems-during-coronavirus/




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