Crossrail managers face ‘spying and fear’ claims

Aaron Morby 5 years ago
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Construction unions are calling for Crossrail and its main contractors to take action after a leaked safety report revealed a “culture of spying and fear” leaving workers afraid to report accidents.

Construction Union UCATT is calling for an urgent meeting after a leaked independent report revealed excessive man-marking by Crossrail managers was pushing relations with contractors to the limit.

The damning report was produced by consultants MindSafety for the BBMV joint venture digging tunnels at Whitechapel and Liverpool Street Station.

The report produced 12 months ago was leaked to the Observer this weekend, which reported a culture of secret photographing and videoing of incidents as they unfolded had done more to damage morale and client perception than anything else.

It said: “The intention of the client is to get the job done safely, on time and with a healthy financial position on completion.

“The reality is that the methods used on-site are almost entirely counterproductive to this. The relationship between client and contractor seems to be strained almost to breaking point.

“A common theme throughout the visit surrounded the idea that the client was ‘policing’ the contractor – trying to catch them out at every turn. Reports of spying and underhand tactics came flooding to us.”

A spokesman for Crossrail defended its methods on site. He said: “Crossrail refutes this inaccurate description and has enjoyed a good working relationship with BBMV throughout. Crossrail’s safety record is better than the UK construction average.”

But Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “This is a devastating report, which shows the appalling state of industrial relations at Crossrail.

“This is clearly having a massive impact on safety and is placing workers in danger.

“Crossrail and its major contractors need to provide urgent answers about how this climate of fear has arisen. The client and the contractors need to sit down with UCATT in order to ensure that morale and confidence is restored on the project to improve safety.”

Safety concerns on Crossrail have increased following the death of Rene Tkacik on the project last month.

In 2013 there were a total of 39 reportable accidents on Crossrail with an accident frequency rate of 0.48 accidents for every 100,000 hours worked.

The union said the accident rate on Crossrail is over four times the accident rate on the Olympic Park which was 0.11 accidents for every 100,000 hours worked when that project was at its peak.

Murphy added: “The most disturbing part of the report is that it describes how workers are fearful of reporting accidents because they believe that if they do so they will be laid off.”

Steve Hails, Crossrail Health and Safety Director said: “Crossrail has a good safety record and sets the most stringent contractor safety requirements in the industry.

“We require all our contractors to put in place honest and open reporting of all incidents however minor. Contractors are also evaluated on their workforce engagement. We’re determined to drive up standards for the whole industry.

“Crossrail has worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive since the earliest stages of the project with dedicated HSE inspectors allocated to undertake regular inspections of Crossrail contractor sites.

“By pioneering new ways of approaching health and safety we want to leave a legacy that will help to make the construction industry safer, long after Crossrail is complete.”

 

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