London Underground has a bit of a tendency to put up warning signs about adverse weather the moment the slightest hint of precipitation is detected in the air, but I think we can accept that the past couple of days would qualify as somewhat adverse.
I would expect to see a bit of grit lain outside station entrances, and probably on platforms that are exposed to the cold and snow.
Indeed, I have seen such demonstrations of common sense on the DLR and London Overground – although I haven’t travelled on the tube this weekend, I would presume the outlying stations at least would be familiar with how to use a shovel and scatter some salt around the place.
It’s just common sense after all.
Not if you are the RMT.
A memo sent to staff warns that the “majority of station staff have received no agreed formal training to undertake this activity, including working with hazardous materials and manual handling, plus there is no agreed staff PPE on stations.”
Yes, they are actually claiming that not only do people need training in how to shovel a bit of salt around but that they need Personal Protective Equipment (high-viz jackets, boots etc) before they can go anywhere near something has hazardous as salt.
OK – working all day everyday with road salt is corrosive, but a bit of gritting of platforms and station entrances is hardly going to have people’s hands dropping off.
In the absence of cleaning staff trained to scatter some salt around, the staff are advised to close platforms, or even entire stations if they become unsafe for passengers.
Closing stations because the RMT says it is not their job to scatter some salt around the place?
This is not a situation where they say even if gritted, that train stations will still be too dangerous for passengers (especially the ladies who still wear high heals in the snow!), they are simply refusing the grit the platforms at all.
I despair. I really do.
I spent the best part of a decade working in customer facing environments and and I cannot recall a single time when it snowed and we didn’t all look upon gritting the entrances and constantly mopping the floor as a delightful distraction from the mundanity of the normal day-to-day routine.
I don’t think anyone I knew then, or know now who would think that using a shovel to scatter road salt would need training. OK, I guess it is possible that there are people around who would lift a shovel and hurt themselves, and then claim that they needed training in how to hold a spade. But if they are that stupid, then H&S training wouldn’t alleviate the issue.
Some health and safety is good, and in public areas with fast moving trains, it’s essential. Training staff is also equally good, where plain common-sense can’t deliver the necessary skills.
Maybe when facing the winter season, a short memo reminding staff of some basic best practices for where to apply grit and how much would be sensible.
But… would you be comfortable seeking help from a member of staff and trusting their advice if you knew they were unable to operate a garden shovel without first undertaking a training session?