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TSSA Amey News: Pay Talks Update And Workers At Risk From Diesel Fumes

9 March 2018

TSSA Amey news on your pay, exposure to diesel emissions, health safety and welfare

 View our latest browser friendly news update here:

  • Pay talks are due to continue 27 March. Our members will have a say on whether we accept or reject company offer
  • Next week, all members will be invited to participate in our online health, safety and welfare survey. Look out for your email invitation
  • Please share this message with colleagues. If you're not a member and you want a say, join online
  • Not a member? Join online today:

Diesel emissions can kill. 

Are you at risk?

Know your rights!

Diesel Engine Exhaust emissions have been in the news a lot recently, including a BBC report into German tests on paid volunteers and monkeys that government ministers described as "absurd and abhorrent".

"Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks called the experiments "abominable" and expressed shock that scientists had agreed to conduct them."

""These tests on monkeys or even humans cannot be justified ethically in any way," said Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman"

"The German government has denounced experiments funded by German carmakers in which humans and monkeys reportedly inhaled diesel exhaust fumes...Such tests could not be justified, the government said, demanding details."

Link: German shock at car exhaust tests on humans and monkeys, BBC, 29 January 2018

Dirty Diesel

Breathing diesel fumes for Amey

TSSA reps in Amey Consulting have been supporting members who may be facing serious health risks including cancer from prolonged exposure to diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) while carrying out tunnel examinations.

We have been struggling to persuade Amey Rail management at all levels to take action to stop using diesel powered RRV elevated platforms (MEWPs) in tunnels unless they can conclusively prove that they are not exposing our members to health risks. We have suggested alternative methods used in various routes and control measures such as portable ventilation without success.

Rather than cease activities linked to exposing our members to DEEs, Amey have employed consultants to perform tests on our members while they work in the basket of a MEWP. We were advised in May 2017 that tests would be carried out in three tunnels to assess the risk. In nine months, just one test was carried out, in Sharbrook tunnel. 

In a chilling echo of the denounced German experiments above, the official report describes a seven hour test where workers appeared to face prolonged exposure. The only photo published in the report shows an examiner standing in a MEWP basket without any visible respiratory protection. An Amey Operational Safety Adviser (OSA) we spoke to could not confirm what, if any, respiratory protective equipment (RPE) was in place, but agreed that RPE should be available to staff if other control measures are not possible.

"The MEWP was diesel-fuelled, with the exhaust discharging at high level such that the basket travels in the engine exhaust plume. An odour of DEEE and visible haze were experienced.
The MEWP basket was considered likely to be the worst case location for DEEE exposure
After stating that on a score of low to high exposure using an HSE chart, the report suggests that this examiners conducting this activity "may experience a 'medium' level of exposure to DEEEs, as suggested by HSG187, leading to a recommendation that the adequacy of controls be checked"

The report concludes:
"Inspectors observed that conditions in Sharnbrook tunnel during the assessment were unlikely to represent 'worst case' exposure"

RSK/Amey OW Ltd. Report No.442676-01

Target zero or zero action to protect your health and safety?

Our members should consider Amey's real attitude to workers' health, safety and welfare; on 7 March, Amey CEO Andy Milner told staff he wanted to make Target Zero a reality in four years, stating that health and safety "has to be the cornerstone... in our DNA...100% act and think that way". Meanwhile, Amey commissions tests on employers exposed to DEEE in the workplace with echoes of lab tests published in 2016  that are condemned by German government ministers as 'abominable'.

If 'medium' exposure to DEEE is reported in an exam that is unlikely to present worst case exposure

ask yourself; what risks are staff exposed to in the worst cases? We can't quietly wait until an examiner is observed for 7 hours breathing exhaust fumes that are conclusively proved to be high risk. 
After a heated debate at national safety council, Lee Jones, Head of Rail, gave our reps a commitment to look into switching to electric powered MEWPs. This may be a viable long term solution but we still fear for members continuing to examine tunnels while breathing diesel fumes.

Look out for our health, safety and welfare survey and share your experiences.

If you want to get involved in helping to improve health, safety and welfare for your colleagues, maybe you could be a rep.

For details, visit our Amey reps page or our resources on health, safety and welfare.

DEEE risks: the evidence

If you may be at risk, have a look at the information below (links in red). If you are not prepared to take the risk you are entitled to invoke the worksafe procedure and stop the job until you are confident that a safe system of work is in place. Please use the close call reporting systems to log any concerns relating to health, safety and welfare issues. 
Since 2012, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEs) as "Carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer."
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identify railway workers working with diesel engines in tunnels as a specific at risk group  This guide includes what ORR call "a useful reference guide on how to gauge low, medium and high exposures to DEEE. The same table is used in the Amey commissioned report.
The ORR have specific guidance on controlling exposure to DEE in the rail industry 


Look out for your Health, Safety and Welfare Survey

We want to hear members' stories on health and safety!

We will send a personal survey invitation email to all Amey TSSA members week commencing 12 March.

Please look out for your invitation and take a couple of minutes to share your experiences so that we can help our members and reps to make real improvements to your working conditions.

For 10 reasons to join TSSA see

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