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The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) Practical Guidance COVID-19

20 May 2020

Practical guidance for operators on implementing COVID-19 public health advice on trains, trams and stations. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) continues to work closely with the rail sector and its trades unions on practical guidance for on-train and station activities to minimise the health risks to employees and passengers from COVID-19, supporting the public health advice from the UK and Scottish Governments and the Welsh Assembly in response to the pandemic and changes in the associated travel restrictions.

We expect operators to take every opportunity in their communication with passengers, the public and other stakeholders to encourage adherence to current public health advice.

This advice may change frequently, and further variations to restrictions introduced, so operators should ensure information is kept up to date. Operators should also communicate information about busy train times and stations, and encourage those making essential journeys to avoid them.

Train operators should take the following measures where practicable. We recognise that some specific steps may be more challenging in certain operating environments, but it is vital that all operators do their utmost to support the key principles of cleanliness, social distancing and discouraging non-essential rail travel.

Our advice should be read alongside that provided by the Department for Transport (links at top of page). On the mainline railway, this guidance is supplemented by agreed safety principles established by the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum and which Rail Delivery Group members should apply.

On trains

· Practice and facilitate social distancing, encouraging passengers and employees to keep 2m (or 3 steps) apart where possible. Approaches to this should take into account that, if a train is crowded, passengers may become unsettled by regular announcements about social distancing.

· Drivers should be alone in the cab. Where it is essential for more than one person to be in a cab to undertake an activity, such as driver assessment, a task based risk assessment should be undertaken (see ‘Face coverings on stations and trains’, below). Alternative arrangements for in-cab assessments should be introduced, where practicable. Where train crew need access to other cabs in the train, they should do so alone.

· Consider train crew opening and closing all platform facing doors during station duties to minimise passengers having to operate door controls. Train managers should only undertake door duties and emergency actions.

· Where social distancing can be achieved, on-train revenue protection and catering facilities may take place. Cash payments should be discouraged.

· Ensure regular cleaning - with a substance that kills the virus - of surfaces that employees and passengers are likely to touch. Pay particular attention to driving cab controls, door controls, grab handles and toilet door handles.

· Passengers exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 on board should be isolated in a carriage, or else placed at least 2m away from other passengers, as soon as can be achieved. Assistance should be provided for passengers with symptoms to alight the train if necessary. In this situation assisting employees should thoroughly wash/sanitise their hands as soon as possible, the assisting employees should then self-isolate in accordance with Government advice. The coach should be cleaned before re-entering passenger carrying service.

At stations and on platforms

· Train operators should maintain an appropriate level of staffing to ensure suitable and sufficient levels of security and control at stations.

· Rostering should consider the advice to establish reoccurring ‘contained teams’ of people to reduce wider employee interaction.

· Remind passengers about Government guidance on travel restrictions, social distancing and wearing face coverings on trains (remembering that the advice may not always be the same in every part of Great Britain), by way of visual and audible messages.

· Employees should discourage passengers exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the station and travelling, but should not compromise social distancing in doing so.

· Station operators should put in place arrangements to manage queues and congestion. This should include identifying areas where there is an increased risk of crowding or congestion and identifying mitigation measures to reduce the likelihood, such as signage and communication, and physical measures to guide passenger flows.

· Encourage passengers, unless in family/household groups, to sit or stand 2m apart. Graphics (such as posters or floor markings) may help to illustrate spacing on trains.

· Discourage cash payments at booking offices and retail outlets. If employees must handle cash, hands should be washed or sanitised immediately afterwards.

· Waiting rooms can be open where social distancing guidelines can be met, with additional controls informed by risk assessment.

· Operators should maintain customer assistance arrangements. Passengers should be encouraged to contact the relevant train operating company as soon as possible to discuss their requirements. However, pre-booking assistance is still not required.

Face coverings on stations and trains

· Face coverings are not mandatory PPE and therefore do not fall under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992. Face coverings provide a physical block against transmission and do not prevent the inhalation of the virus.

· Face coverings adopted by the railway industry to prevent transmission include surgical masks (BS EN 14683 2019 Type I and Type II), visors (BS EN 166 2002), or reusable material face coverings (see manufacturers guidance). FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 masks are designed to filter out dust only therefore other face coverings should be used.

· To promote a consistent approach:

o Homemade face coverings, masks and visors should be discouraged;

o The limited supplies of FFP3 masks should be prioritised for the healthcare profession where they are working closely for a long duration with COVID patients;

o It is expected that FFP3 masks should only be used in a railway setting where:

1. they have been previously issued as PPE based on a COSHH task risk thereby their supply and wear needs to be continued and should not be replaced by an alternative face covering, or

2. following Government guidance on first responders, they should be included within first-aid kits for employees responding to medical emergencies.

· The effectiveness of FFP3 masks are reliant on the user being face-fit tested and clean shaven. This creates an airtight seal around the face, where the filter in the front of the mask

prevents dust from being inhaled, and the valve allows the user to exhale. Therefore, in terms of preventing transmission, FFP3 masks are ineffective.

· The hierarchy of risk control needs to be followed, with priority given to collective protection by reviewing and adjusting work practices to avoid the need for close proximity interaction before relying on individual risk controls. For example, where control measures such as clear acrylic screens have been erected, no further assurance would be delivered from a face covering.

· The best defence against the spread of COVID-19 continues to be the isolation of those exhibiting symptoms, social distancing and enhanced hand hygiene. The safe use of face coverings should be supported as an additional precautionary measure to protect others working in close proximity. Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect the user, however if they are infected but not showing symptoms, it may provide protection and mutual assurance for others when unable to maintain social distancing.

· Task based risk assessments should be conducted to identify roles where face coverings should be considered and the option of wearing them given to employees, e.g. for employees where the 2 metre social distancing rules cannot be observed. (Based on Public Health authorities and European Centre for Disease Control guidance to on infection transmission risk).

· The provision of face coverings does not remove the need to maintain social distancing and every effort should be made to reinforce this message to reduce the risk of a face covering giving the wearer a false sense of security. Operators should develop and communicate a clear policy for face coverings, enabling all employees to understand what is available and why.

· Any face covering offered to employees should be risk assessed to ensure that the item does not import further risk and is practical for the task being undertaken. Specifically, visors should not be used for safety critical tasks where visual acuity would create operational risk, such as train driving, dispatch and shunting.

· Clear processes should be in place regarding all face coverings including:

o instructions as to its safe use (putting on and taking off), see;

o how employees are to safely store and transport it;

o safe disposal of the used/contaminated item OR instructions on the cleaning/laundering of the item; and

o when to change the item.

· Consider the medium to long term procurement of the face coverings and the purchase of face coverings that meet the required standard. Have prepared plans in place should the identified items be no longer attainable.

· Awareness of the current difference in government advice regarding face coverings within England, Scotland, and Wales needs to be recognised. However, isolating at home if symptomatic, practicing good hygiene methods, having a thorough cleaning regime and maintaining a 2 metre distance from people remain the primary control measures.

Supporting employees

· All employees should be reminded to wash their hands frequently, ideally with soap and water or alternatively using a hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol.

· Vulnerable employees should be protected – this will be all those with the conditions identified in the Government’s COVID-19 guidance. They should all be self-isolating and you will need to consider how you support employees who live with someone who is vulnerable and self-isolating.

We advise operators to keep the above measures in place until the Government instructs that COVID-19 controls can be relaxed further.


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