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PROJECT NAME: Rope Access inspections (supporting Amey on the CEFA contract & LNW Earthworks)
NETWORK RAIL ROUTE(S): Wales, LNW, LNE, Western, Wessex, Southeast, Anglia
SERVICES: Earthwork inspections to NR_L3_CIV_065 [Issue 6] 2017 using industrial rope access techniques
Earthworks inspections requiring rope access techniques on both the CEFA & LNW earthworks contracts.
Each examiner has been assessed as part of NR/SP/CTM/017-Competence & Training in Civil Engineering and are all competent to EWE3. All rope access examination staff are trained and competent to IRATA Level 1 (as a minimum), and most have over 5yrs experience using roped access.
Over the last 5 years our Company has successfully delivered over 5000 rope access inspections meeting the requirements of NR_L3_CIV_065 [Issue 6] 2017, and each inspection has gone through the rigorous approval and evaluation process via Amey and Network Rail.
Typically, these earthworks are slopes above retaining walls or around tunnel portals and are therefore classed by Network Rail as high-risk areas.
We pride ourselves in delivering detailed inspections that go above and beyond the requirements of the standard.
All examination staff have completed the RSHI (Rock Slope Hazard Index) course and come with Dynamic Risk Assessment training to complement their Emergency at Work First Aid certificates.
We also have a team of IRATA Level 2 and 3 operatives with the companies lead L3 also being an IRATA qualified trainer.
As part of IRATA we are also able to carry out our internal six-monthly equipment checks on all rope access kit to meet the requirements of LOLER and PUWER.
We have recently appointed a new Operations Director, who is the former Amey earthworks national CRE (Contractors Responsible Engineer) who brings with him more than 10 years of experience in the successful delivery of over 300,000 earthwork examinations for Network Rail, with over 15,000 of these being achieved using roped access techniques.
Our senior management team are also IRATA Level 1 qualified and are therefore able to attend rope sites for inspection work and/or safety audits. We also have access to training facilities where we carry out rescue scenarios and rope access manoeuvre’s supervised by our internal trainer in order to facilitate our on-site activities and the organisations strong safety culture.
At the start of any new package of work we ensure all staff involved are given a safety briefing to highlight known site risks, control measures and updates on any relevant safety bulletins. At the start of each shift our teams will carry out comprehensive pre-site checks and conduct thorough briefings about the site layout, access and egress, the safe system to be used and the rope access methods/anchorage to be implemented.
Rope access work in the rail environment is a highly specialised skill and every one of our earthwork examiners have between 5 to 10 years’ experience in this field.
We review their EWE3 competency annually in accordance with ‘NR SP CTM 017 Competence & Training in Civil Engineering’ and ensure they maintain their IRATA competence. We continually monitor our examiners for quality and accuracy and provide further training and/or mentoring where required.
Any new staff will be trained in earthwork inspections and in the use of the handheld device and GISmo software. They will only be certified once our Operations Director is confident in their ability and understanding. If refresher training is required, this will be delivered ahead of any new season. During CP5, our Company has built the technical capability to meet the peaks in national workbanks to ensure our client always stays compliant and has the data it needs to make informed decisions and to manage budgets effectively.
We have also developed our own internal handheld application to support our business. This new innovative tool supports our management team with any planning and programming and can then be utilised on site as a location device, task prioritisation tool and also to carry out dynamic risk assessments and hazard identifications, sending back information to an online portal in real time.
Our roped access examiners have also attended earthworks rapid responses where roped access inspections were needed following an incident on steep ground or where an assessment would involve working at height. This meant rapidly mobilising a team of IRATA staff to assess slopes that are showing signs of failure.
We have provided the on-site support, failure identification, risk assessment for the safe running of the railway and specifying any recommendations and conclusions back to the route asset management team and Network Rail control.
Earthworks failures generally occur during periods of inclement weather, so we make sure the safety of the responding examiner is paramount by providing them with as much information about the incident, track layout, line speeds and site contact numbers. We also ensure appropriate lighting is made available should the incident occur at night.
All roped access examination staff and senior management within our Company have a minimum trackside competence of IWA or COSS. All have multiple years of experience working on Network Rail managed infrastructure and are fully compliant to NR/L2/OHS/019. We provide our own Safe Work Packs which link into our own set of Work Package Plans and Task Briefing sheets, highlighting all site risks and their control measures.
Alongside our normal NR_L3_CIV_065 rope access inspections, our Company has also carried out several more bespoke geotechnical appraisals on sites where additional detail or focus is required by the client. Where intervention works have been installed such as rock reinforcement, rock bolts and fixed netting, we have been asked to carry out maintenance checks to highlight any areas requiring repair.
Western Route commissioned our company to undertake an assessment of some rock netting in Bristol that had been installed some years prior.
The works involved clearing large amounts of vegetation and liaising with adjacent landowners for access in order to undertake an assessment of the netting, overlaps, top and bottom ropes and anchorage. We have also undertaken numerous bespoke geotechnical appraisals and light scaling works on rock cuttings throughout the country.
Our Company has also worked on HS1 – Network Rail (High Speed) for Amey carrying out all the earthwork inspections requiring roped access techniques for safe access.