Safety culture exemplified

June 17, 2020

Walsall training centre leads the way


Caption: Long Blue Earths

Network Rail Training colleagues shine a spotlight on safety after successfully trialling new overhead line equipment (OLE). The alternative socket and adapter combination was tested by workforce development specialists at Walsall training centre looking to improve safety for colleagues carrying out overhead line maintenance and, by extension, passengers and freight users.

A successful trial:

Following an incident at the centre during an Authorised Person training course where a delegate was struck by a falling clamp that had come loose in its socket, the supplier, PB Weir, was contacted and challenged to provide an engineering solution to reduce the risk of repeat incidents. Gavin Brandrick, workforce development specialist (team leader), listened to the supplier’s advice and immediately set up a trial of a different socket and adapter more suited to the task of attaching specific earthing wires (Long Blue Earths) to overhead lines.

The trial was conducted by a team of workforce development specialists and OLE Authorised Persons, under guidance from PB Weir and a representative from Safety, Technical and Engineering (STE), all of whom deemed it a success.

Gavin Brandrick said, “All feedback was positive with the staff saying they felt more confident that the earth would not fall due to the improved design of the socket. All staff applied and removed the earth without any problems after a quick brief and demonstration”.

The alternative equipment is now being further trialled by STE and, if successful, will be considered for national rollout – a prime example of how the safety of the training environment can be used to develop solutions and new ways of working for the live railway. 

Professional curiosity and a passionate commitment: 

John Partington, SHE specialist and accident investigator, said: “The response to the accident, investigation and prospective solution has revealed a safety culture among the training team at Walsall training centre which is a credit to them and an asset to Network Rail.
“When faced with the challenge of an alternative way of working, the workforce development specialists did not offer barriers to change based on their years of using the existing kit; they showed professional curiosity and a passionate commitment to Network Rail’s drive for ‘better every day’ by not only accepting the possibility of change, but by running with the idea and owning the initiative. This is the type of safety culture to be celebrated in Network Rail. To our workforce development specialists Robert Brandrick and Steven Urie, who conducted the trial – thank you. There is a real possibility of Network Rail seeing a significant safety improvement due to your attitude – and that is clearly an example of ‘Putting Passengers First’!”