Category: Health and Safety


Following concerns raised about the efficacy of Network Rail’s Lateral Flow Testing process, at its meeting on 21st January, your National Executive Committee (NEC) noted and adopted the report (below) of its Health and Safety Sub-committee.
At a further meeting on January 26th, your NEC noted a further report from the Regional Organiser and the concerns raised in regard to a member feeling slightly unwell at work and so opted to take one of the company’s flow tests which came up as negative. He therefore finished his shift at work.
His partner is an NHS employee who has such kits at home as they are required to test themselves twice weekly. So that same day, he took a second test with his partner’s equipment which proved positive. He then went and took an official site test which confirmed the positivity.
It is therefore clear that Network Rail testing kits might not suitable for purpose, that the staff carrying out the test may not be properly trained and/or Network Rail’s methods for testing are wanting.
I have been instructed to take account of these concerns when carrying out the earlier decision as below:
We note the report from the Regional Organiser.
The General Secretary is instructed to prepare an in-depth report on lateral flow and other workplace testing regimes to be placed in front of this NEC.

Transport Worker Safety Forum

RMT statement on Labour’s call for Government to convene transport worker Covid Safety forum
Commenting on Labour’s call for the Government to convene a transport worker Covid-19 safety forum with unions and operators, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT welcomes Labour’s demands for the Government to convene a transport industry forum with unions and operators to ensure transport workers’ safety during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“An industry wide approach is already embedded in the rail sector, and RMT has long called for this to be extended to the bus sector, where it is clear that the lack of an industry wide approach continues to put bus workers at risk.
“The recent ONS figures which showed that male bus, coach and taxi drivers have a heighted risk of death from Covid-19 are a tragic reminder of the risks that frontline transport workers continue to face and should be a wake-up call to Government and operators that they need to take action to protect these key workers.
“A survey of RMT bus worker members, published just days ago found that nearly 70% of bus workers felt that their employer had put business priorities before safety during the pandemic.
“There can be no more excuses, the Government must establish a national bus industry coronavirus forum to ensure that bus workers and passengers are properly protected. The Government’s strategy must also include prioritising transport workers for the Covid-19 vaccine.” 

LUL Circular 3rd November 2020

Further to my previous (Circular IR/391/20, 1st  October 2020) and following the recent vote in favour of taking industrial action in this dispute the Lead Officer and Representatives held further dispute resolution talks with LUL but a number of key issues and questions that were raised were not addressed. These included a failure to provide the necessary detail and assurances regarding members’ working conditions and as a result the Lead Officer and Reps had planned to call for Industrial Action.
On Saturday 24th October the Lead Officer received correspondence from LUL that point by point answered the demands that RMT had put to them as necessary following the outcome of our earlier dispute meeting. The dispute from the very beginning has been over LUL’s refusal to act and address the varied and serious facility issues and management of Health and Safety at Hammersmith Service Control Centre. Nothing less than LUL’s complete commitment to rectifying these issues would be acceptable and the measures LUL have now agreed to take will be subject to our Representatives’ full consultation and oversight.
The outcome we now have, our demands met in full and with the requisite detail and Union oversight, has been achieved through our members’ voice and the mandate they gave in the ballot for Industrial Action. Without members voicing their commitment for the right to a safe and dignified workplace this victory would not have been possible.
Our National Executive Committee has met to consider two reports from the Lead Officer. The NEC has congratulated the members involved on their determination to ensure a safe workplace. RMT remains in dispute with LUL and with a mandate for Industrial Action, the NEC have instructed that a meeting is convened of LUL Service Control L2/T2 Reps, NEC and myself in attendance to discuss the progress made in this dispute.
I have been instructed to begin the process of engagement offered by LUL to ensure that our demands are met in full and by the dates provided. The Lead Officer will be making the necessary arrangements for this important work to begin and ensure the outcome members want.
As I have mentioned above, the position we are in now is down to members and the mandate they gave their Representatives in voting to take Industrial Action. The Representatives will remain engaged in this dispute and in ensuring that LUL meet the commitments they were given so that members at Hammersmith Service Control Centre have the safe and dignified workplace they are entitled to.
I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will provide updates on all future developments.
Further to my previous Circular (IR/383/20, 24th September 2020), Sodexo has now given formal notice that it will make 30 redundancies out of its total workforce of 108 with the process concluding the week prior to Christmas, while it will also continue with its reorganisation plans.
It is a disgraceful way to treat a workforce, some of whom have worked for Sodexo for over 20 years, while the company makes millions of pounds of profits every year. And, despite the best efforts of our RMT representatives and Regional Organiser, Sodexo has refused to even delay the redundancy and reorganisation process to allow for further discussions to take place on the matter.
The National Executive Committee has considered this matter again and instructed me to inform Sodexo that an industrial dispute now exists between our organisations, and to commence with a ballot for strike action of Sodexo members.
The ballot will commence shortly and I would be grateful for Branches to ensure that all Sodexo members’ details including job title, workplace, home and e-mail address are correct. I will keep Branches advised of all further developments.
Further to my previous Circular (IR/474/19, 22nd November 2019), the National Executive Committee recently considered an update report from the Lead Officer and noted that these matters are no longer in dispute and were overtaken by the introduction of Covid working. The National Executive Committee also commended our Train Operator members and Reps for their refusal to accept the imposition of WT44/45.
Further to my previous Circular (IR/023/20, 15th January 2020), Brother Ken Lawlor has now been reinstated to his substantive role as a Train Operator and this issue is now resolved. The National Executive Committee extends its congratulations to the Lead Officer, our LUL Train Reps and Bro. Lawlor for achieving this outcome.
Further to my previous Circular (IR/143/20, 22nd April 2020), the National Executive Committee has considered a report from the Lead Officer that the proposed pay cut from MACE only applied to senior management and does not affect our members.
Further to my previous Circular (IR/159/20, 1st May 2020), the National Executive Committee noted a report from the Lead Officer that only one manager was furloughed, and thanked the Lead Officer for his conclusion of this matter.



At its meeting on 11th June 2020, your NEC noted and adoped the following report::

That we note and adopt the demands of the charter contained in the lead officer’s report. The file, “Imposition of Covid-19 Roster – London Underground (LUL8/2), is to be linked to this file.

The NEC applauds the LUL functional and safety council reps, lead officer and all involved in drawing up these demands and commits to providing all possible assistance to the reps and members on TFL/LUL in fighting to maintain a safe workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members, branches and LTRC to be informed.

I reproduce below the Covid-19 Charter:

RMT members have demonstrated our commitment to keeping the tube and other TfL services running throughout the Covid 19 crisis. We want to provide the best possible service to workers in London but we reject workers being forced on to the tube without the necessary safety planning and before conditions are right.

In every sector of the economy workers and their trade unions should be involved in risk assessing all types of work in each workplace before they are required to return to work. Workplaces should only be re-opened when the workforce agrees it is safe to do so. London Underground and TfL must be able to assure us that different phases of lifting lockdown can be achieved without forcing usage above 13% of capacity, which is the maximum we can carry while maintaining social distancing.

The level of services provided and number of passengers using the tube must be kept under constant review in light of any moves in the levels of Covid 19 infections and the R number. The ability of passengers as well as staff to socially distance must be part of this process, which must include trade union safety reps as well as management.

In addition to the principles outlined above we call on TFL/LUL to agree the following:

• All individual tasks must be risk assessed involving RMT safety reps.
• Risks to BAME members must be assessed for their specific role and location and acted on.
• All staff at additional risk should continue to be accommodated away from the workplace. No-one in this category should be forced to work.
• 2m social distancing must be maintained. Face coverings are no mitigation for 2m social distancing.
• 2m social distancing must apply when travelling to/from work. No-one should be forced to use a crowded bus or train.
• Exemption from Congestion/emissions charges for TFL staff and contractors
• PE must to a standard agreed by safety reps. In public areas a clear visor and FFP2/N95 mask should be made available to any member of staff who wants them.
• Workers using LUL/TfL road vehicles must be able to socially distance.
• Social distancing rosters and reduced staffing levels should be implemented as widely as possible and be regularly reviewed by reps. Any changes to staffing levels should be by agreement. Where reps agree it is safe and necessary to do so, temporary staffing levels should be increased where the service level demands it.
• Plans to increase engineering work and train preparation should be driven by what can be achieved safely and while maintaining social distancing and not by demands to run a full service from government.
• Station staff must be able to maintain social distancing in all stations including in public areas.
• Station staff should remain behind glass as far as possible.
• Train operator duties must be re-designed with input from RMT safety reps to ensure social distancing, minimise risk and address the various concerns of train operators.
• Pay must be restored to all who refused to work because of fears for safety. The proper refusal to work process must be followed.
• All workers on TFL/LUL must continue to receive their full pay throughout this crisis. Whether employed by a contractor like cleaners and many engineers or self-employed like many protection staff – All workers who work directly or indirectly for TFL must be treated fairly. TFL should underwrite the pay of all when furloughed, laid-off, sick or isolating.

I wish to add my gratitude to the LUL functional and safety council reps, lead officer and all involved in drawing up these demands and I give my commitment to providing all possible assistance to the reps and members on TFL/LUL in fighting to maintain a safe workplace during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid UPDATE LUL Contracts

COVID-19 related issues


Area Comments
Track and Signals Tier 2: General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices.

·         Risk Assessments are either done or in process.

·         Looking at sharing best practice around areas.

·         Looking at fire doors being automatically released in the event of a fire (trial being undertaken) so that they can be left open for Covid-19 ventilation.

·         Vehicle access and social isolation being looked at.

·         SOO waivers being investigate as to what has been changed and why no consultation.

·         Still problems on the MET such as petrol payment and issues with annual leave and looking at best practice across all areas. Still very quiet.

·         LUOH RA are poor and needs TU involvement and telling people to return to work asap. Very poor quality health survey

·         Need to look at accommodation for full return of staff to accommodate social distancing.

·         Asked to amend times for start times at Stratford to avoid peak travel (approx. 7am to 9am)

·         Zoono paper reports that it is not effective was raised and denied by LUL. Our view is we see this as part of a safe system of work plus we need a better system for tracking the work done.

·         Vehicle shielding being trialled at Baker Street and details to be shared.

·         Joint meeting with Trains Safety Council to discuss Cab Access.

Signals Incident General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices.

·         Work TO scheme agreement ready for sign off by Simon Milburn.

·         DSIMs back at work, need to chase up.

·         Need to get the JNP reps invited to Covid Updates ref SMD.

·         Train Cab access process just being agreed and let train side know what we need for safe access. More help from the train reps would be useful

·         JNP signals still waiting for the return of the risk assessments. DSIMs happy to work closely together and ignore 2m social distancing

·         Stopping of fuel payments

·         Training concerns that there was excessive travel as the managers was not obtaining joining instructions near where people work. Courses to be arranged as best as possible to be near where staff are living.

Track Projects Move back to full restart however now lack of management consultation on issues. This is being dealt with.

Looking at workshop return.

Furloughed staff to all be returned by September. 4 staff flagged as RED

LUBE returning to a 23:00 start and can socially distance.

Track Workshops to return 5 days a week due to increase in work

LUL Track Not all staff did reduced days and some areas now struggling to complete all work


Running smoothly and not being asked to move to a full return.

Bloo ‘Q’ Grades looking to be returned for 5 days.


Meeting took place with D Weir stated it was contractual and the workplace safe (Perspex etc). We have requested the risk assessments for those grades.

R&E/ TLL & Stations Little happening and no change


·         Vast majority of staff furloughed with no sign of any return to station upgrade work being restarted


Stations & Civils General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices. COVID bolt on to define essential and non-essential work. Certain works now going ahead and have the support of local managers in going forward.

Awaiting for management to agree new COMMs roster, slow progress


TAC Portal was implemented without discussions and looks like it is to stay and aimed at doing away with  team leaders. Still to be discussed with the RMT. No training and woolly instructions on NEPA. Zero communications with the senior management, only via bulletins. Issue was challenged and was told this was to deal with COVID however, this has been expanded now to also include exclusion areas etc. End users also need to pursue this issue. 7 ON and 7 OFF system working well as is the back up location and will continue for another few months. T&S Tier 2 and Safety Forum has had the issue on its agenda and that the RO and Staff side sec will chase them up.
Apprentices Will all be given jobs and will be given the opportunity to complete the apprenticeship. Some retention issues in R&E being resolved. Apprenticeship being extended through to next April to complete the apprenticeship.


Concerns regarding the safe return of apprentices into the work place. Talks meant to be occurring at local level. Issue of MET line being dealt with and already raised. Rep has approached both the MET Signals and the Apprentice unit. Talks have occurred on the District Signals.

TLL Signals General discussions on a full return to work and continued safe practices. Issues with BAME risk assessments and Works TOs in incident. No significant change. Bi-weekly meetings with S Milburn. No push to reopen depots but still maintaining single cover. Issue of so called guidance released at Signal Works dealt with and explained not for the present date and was guidance for the start of the covid crisis for potential ideas on safe working.

Also issues with social working at most depots and especially certain depots which has led to an eIRF and refusal to work being lodged. Staff not distancing and wearing masks. Management refusing to do leadership and take control of the situation. Issues at SMD regarding the above and lack of union representation. Inspection being undertaken tonight. Simon Milburn to put out company guidance against complacency.

Still issues getting wall mounted hand sanitisers at all locations. Need to show that other staff are attending to get it installed (via Risk Assessment). Need to collate best practice.

Tampers and ETOs Returned to normal from the 24th August 2020.
TLL Escalator Maintenance Work returned to normal. Face fitted masks etc
Annual Leave LUL company policy still refusing to the carryover of up to 20 days leave.


‘The carry over arrangements announced by Government recently, state that employees may carry forward up to four weeks’ holiday where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take it in the annual leave year due to effects of COVID-19. This does not mean that there is an automatic entitlement to carry forward 20 days’ leave (or some other amount of leave of the employee’s choosing).


The Government guidance sets out the relevant factors which should be taken into account when determining whether or not it is reasonably practicable for leave to be taken in the current leave year. These reasons focus on where there is such pressure/demand within the business requiring employees to work that it is not possible for leave to be taken by those employees. It is envisaged in such cases that the employer would tell the employees that they cannot take their leave.’


Covid Risk Assessments Incident and District Line completed. General depot one have been done.


All Risk Assessments need to be checked for new staff returning that was shielding. Talked about a phased return to work. Concerns that staff are only deemed vulnerable if over 70%. People should really not be at work if vulnerable. Needs to look at how we approach this issue. First question needs to be that LUOH have not done their job properly and we will review and put something out ourselves. Important to be aware that despite restrictions being lifted for shielding does not mean that people have had their restrictions lifted.

LUOH not taking into account how people have to travel to work which could potentially mean that they are vulnerable.


LUL BAME Risk Assessments People need to aware that these should be carried out and that the use of central communications was not appropriate and that we need to move to a more local approach. The onus should be away from the individuals and the RMT had major concerns regarding how LUL was looking into this issue. LUL are calling an emergency meeting however, it was a waste of time. Rep has sent out documents but their starting point risk assessment was for White Finger Vibration issue which was disgusting.

Lack of awareness in some areas and being pursued at higher levels.

Glasses Concerns that glasses were misting up with the face masks. LUL is looking special products that can be used.


Some demisting solution has been trialled but unsuccessful

Minimum Numbers in the Van Concerns ref minimum numbers and the need to maintaining 2m distance. Company have issued new guidance ref Tier 2 and we are rejecting this out of order.
Training restart Looking at phasing course start times, all agreed but joining instructions not updated
Thermal Monitoring of staff Should not be to do away with other protections and at the start and not in place of PPE. If high temp then staff go home. Need to progress pay for non-permanent staff. Branch position generally in favour.
LUL BAME Risk Assessments Meetings No further meetings and LUL attitude is disgusting. They have done nothing.


Only 1 meeting occurred and then nothing. Action: chase J Leach

Local Lock Downs Bro Jackson raised the issue of local lock downs such as Leicester and whether there is any discussions or planning.


Not a great response from LUL and no plan in place. No real guidance has been forthcoming. No firm commitment.

Ventilation Issue with air recycled systems and where it is dispelled. It is felt most depots are probably ok but our reps need to raise during their risk assessments.
Balfour Beatty More staff unfurloughed and redeployment.

Looking at restart and job moves. Wish to use thermal camera as above.

Cubic Concerns that RA’s aren’t available
Self Employed/ Protection Very hard times. LUL changing protection arrangement hours and very little work. Issue raised with LUL and they stated that they would not implement. This has not been implemented.


Hardship Fund now over £5000.


·         Look at ways of communication actioned.


Branch Exec Produce PPE Guidelines, work in progress
  Obtain Face Masks



Every year on April 28th, all around the world the trade union movement unites to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD).


We remember those who have lost their lives at work, or from work-related injury and diseases. We renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work.


The Covid-19 pandemic affects every worker regardless of sector or locality. Tens of thousands of workers worldwide have died. More have fallen ill and key workers continue to go to work risking their lives. Many workers are still attending work ill-equipped and without necessary safety measures in place.

We could not have a starker reminder of the important role of trade union health and safety reps in saving and protecting workers’ lives, than the current crisis we are living through.

While we may not be able to attend the memorial events which usually take place on IWMD, there are many ways trade union members can take part in our collective day of remembrance and solidarity.


At 11am on Tuesday 28th April, please take part in a minute’s silence where it is safe to do so. I have already written to employers and authorities across the UK to allow all employees under their remit to do so and the initiative is supported by the government.


It will be a moment to pay tribute to the sacrifice made of so many workers during the pandemic, to remember those who have sadly lost their lives, and to thank and fight for the rights of all those who continue to do vital work at great risk.


Help spread the word about the minute’s silence by encouraging as many friends and colleagues to take part, whether in their workplace or at home. Social media links are here:


Facebook: Twitter:



TUC information on the day can be found here:


Please make the contents of this Circular available to all members.


I will be emailing all members these details.


Yours sincerely

Mick Cash


I can advise members that the HSE has provided an email address for unions to report concerns to directly:
This is to help reps raise issues, demonstrate to HSE the scale of the problems and encourage it to take urgent necessary action.
Also, the TUC has launched a report outlining some of the steps we need to ensure work is safe before any easing of ‘lockdown’ can be proposed. You can find the report here:
Although this is not for the rail industry members, be assured that I have raised this matter with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Railways at the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) this morning  and asked him to follow the example of HSE. If such a scheme is set up by ORR I will update this Circular.
Please make the contents of this Circular available to all appropriate members.
Yours sincerely
Mick Cash

Basic Rules to keeping safe

Below is the basics of keeping and working safe.


  • Keep at least 2m social distancing
  • Use the correct PPE and be careful
  • Do not rush
  • If you have doubts about your work or work methods then contact your rep
  • If you have enough doubts to contact your REP then you probably have enough doubts to refuse to work on the grounds of Health and Safety
  • Speak to your managers and tell them why you don’t feel safe

We control our safety. Do not take chances.


Staying safe is our right


Keeping trains running for key workers is our role.


We cannot do that if we all catch the illness

TfL Staff deaths due to Covid 19

Engineering Reps on a conference call with London Underground were today told that 30 TFL workers have now died.



This means it is likely that the deaths of transport workers has now surpassed NHS workers in London.


We stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in the NHS and we are doing all we can to get all essential workers to work.



What our employers must URGENTLY do, is supply us with full and adequate P.P.E in order to do so.



Our lives depend on it.

Refusal Work on the Grounds of Health & Safety COVID 19

RMT issues advice to rail and bus members that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide adequate protection from COVID-19
TRANSPORT UNION RMT has issued advice to tens of thousands of workers in the rail and bus sector throughout the UK today saying its members should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from COVID-19.
The message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against COVID-19.
The advice says rail and bus workers should stop work and invoke the “safe work procedure if employers do not follow key protection measures” including:
•         Employers to only conduct activities and tasks that are necessary for running the essential services for key workers and movement of freight during the emergency. Staff to only be deployed to tasks that are deemed as essential.
•         Avoid large and small gatherings to maintain two metres of separation between workers; and with the public, including when travelling in vehicles and trains; meaning that employers have to provide for single occupancy in work vehicles and for passenger vehicles, an isolation zone including zoning-off seats; and screens around drivers and crew.
•         Maintain two metres of separation between all individuals when on task. Where the task is essential to the safe operation of the service, and cannot be performed with two metres of separation, then personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye defenders and masks to be utilized by all workers in close proximity to provide mutual assurance and the time spent within two metres must be minimized and only for the purpose of the task. If full appropriate PPE is not available then work should not commence.
•         Members who have an underlying condition who are exercising “particularly stringent social distancing”, as advised by the NHS, should observe the two metres distance at all times and should decline any task where the two metres distance could be breached.
•         As a temporary measure – minimise cash transactions when working, wherever possible.
•         All companies in the rail and bus sectors need to ensure that toilet and washing facilities are open and readily available for transport workers at all locations so that they can comply in full with government advice.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Today we have issued advice to our members in the rail and bus sectors that they should stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from COVID-19.
“That means that if they are not provided with PPE, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary they should not be working.
“Our members are increasingly concerned that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against COVID-19.”


Please find below links to two documents containing the RMT’s advice to members employed in the rail and bus industries during the ongoing Coronavirus – COVID-19 pandemic:
For Railway (including London Underground) workers:  
For Bus workers:
The RMT has recently received a barrage of queries from both individual members and from our elected Representatives on what to expect from their employers with regard to the Coronavirus – COVID-19 pandemic, what protections are being put in place and how their health and safety is to be protected by employers.
These documents have been sent to all RMT members employed in the rail and bus industries.




The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health has urged the Government to take action to prevent the ‘next asbestos’ from taking more lives in the UK.


The APPG and not-for-profit organisation Building and Civil Engineering (B&CE)’s joint report, Silica – the next asbestos?, examines the danger posed by respirable crystalline silica (RCS).


The link to the APPG/B&CE report is at


In a 2014 report, the HSE stated that silica is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos:


Around 600,000 UK workers are exposed to RCS each year, which is created when bricks or stone are either fractured, cut or drilled into. This can cause silicosis, the most common chronic occupational lung disease in the world. In Australia, the recent rise in cases of silicosis has been described as an ‘emerging occupational health epidemic’.


The new report calls on the Government to take a number of crucial steps to address these issues and protect construction workers from exposure to RCS.


These recommendations include:


  1. Halving the workplace exposure limit (WEL) for RCS in the UK from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3 in line with the 2003 recommended exposure standard from the Scientific Committee on Occupation Exposure Limits
  2. Developing and implementing a targeted industry awareness campaign for those at risk of developing silicosis
  3. Introducing occupational health services into GP surgeries to allow for occupational histories to be taken where work-related ill health is suspected
  4. Introducing new health and safety regulations specifically relating to the control of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), to bring it into line with asbestos
  5. Introducing an NHS screening programme for those exposed to RCS

Jim Shannon MP, Chair of the APPG for Respiratory Health, said:

“This inquiry has given us real insight into the steps being taken to improve at-work health, especially around the issue of silica dust. We hope this report will assist the Health and Safety Executive, the Government and the construction industry to shine light on an under-documented issue and protect the construction workforce from preventable injury and illnesses.”

One of those to submit evidence to the inquiry was Gordon Sommerville, 59, from Scotland, who retired from his work as a stone mason and builder due to ill-health. In his evidence, he recalled almost non-existent levels of industry awareness to the dangers of inhaling dust at the start of his 38-year career.


He said: “Today, colleges teach stoneworkers of the dangers, the

HSE runs awareness campaigns and larger companies will supply employees with respiratory protection. But still the danger of dust has not filtered through to most and ignorance is still the major cause of dust diseases.”


I also draw your attention to RMT’s own publication, “Danger Dust”, which is available online at