Safety is embedded in our corporate philosophy and business planning process as we constantly strive to improve our health, safety and security performance in pursuit of excellence.View "Health and Safety Policy Statement" document (PDF 519KB)
Safety in Northern is built around three guiding principles - Process, People and Leadership - and these need to work harmoniously and optimally to deliver our goal 'to be recognised as a train operator that delivers strong safety performance and a safe environment for customers and colleagues, by enabling a positive safety culture amongst our workforce'. Our safety management system is certified to OHSAS 18001
Operational safety (the safe movement of trains) is a key risk are for Northern, and we have adopted a holistic approach to the management of operational safety including the development of an Operational Risk Management Strategy. This has underpinned substantial reductions in Signals Passed at Danger (SPADs) and other operational safety incidents since the start of the franchise. We recognise that most incidents occur when a person makes an inadvertent error. Human error is an absolute key focus for operational safety management. It is a cause of incidents that we hope to reduce further with a better understanding from the industry-leading work we are doing on non-technical skills, and how they affect human error.
We have processes in place to ensure compliance with safety legislation and best practice in the management of health and safety risks; we strive to create a safe environment with quality facilities for our employees, and we actively encourage safe behaviour and working safely. We are focussing effort particularly on reducing slip, trip and fall accidents for both employees and customers. Customer safety is a high priority and focus for us. We communicate to customers via posters and leaflets reminding them to take care when boarding/alighting trains, using stairs and travelling along platforms, to try and encourage safe behaviour.
Northern has around 2,000 customer-facing employees who are vulnerable to assaults by customers and to anti-social behaviour. We have specific training programmes for frontline employees to ensure they remain safe and are adequately prepared to deal with any confrontational situations that may arise. We have focussed resources on community safety and security, improving facilities at stations and on trains to improve the sense of personal security, such as increased CCTV and a more visible presence in the shape of our Rail Response Teams.
Historically, the railways and surrounding areas have suffered from recurring anti-social behaviour, as well as instances of trespass and route crime. We have developed a Schools' Charter, which is a contract with schools to manage and monitor behaviour of their schoolchildren whilst they are on railway property. This is being implemented at a number of schools across the network. Such initiatives should see even greater reductions in incidents, fewer crimes, further revenue increases and lower maintenance costs, as well as encouraging more people to use the railway. The work to educate these children and mould behaviour is likely to pay dividends for years to come.
We continue our long-standing partnership with the Crimestoppers Trust. The partnership promotes and enables confidential reporting of incidents across the network.
The Yellow Card scheme is a system for reporting incidents, with the flexibility to educate and warn, as well as prosecute, those responsible for poor behaviour. It is easily understood by students and information is shared between partners and parents, to empower schools to use their own sanctions to deal with offenders.
Yellow cards can be issued by schoolteachers, rail employees or British Transport Police (BTP) officers, with details of the incident, date and location, the name and address of the youngster as well as information about their year and form group.
Pupils from Nutgrove Primary School in St Helens have their artistic efforts on display at Thatto Heath station. The initiative was run in conjunction with British Transport Police Community Support Officers to encourage people to be aware of the dangers of playing or trespassing near the railway. 200 children from the primary school took part, with seven winning artwork creations now on display on the south-bound platform.
We became the first train operator to be accredited by the British Parking Association (BPA) as an Approved Operator for parking enforcement on private land. The Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) is designed specifically for BPA members that operate parking enforcement services on private land or in unregulated public car parks.
Northern manages over 250 station car parks and can now implement a range of parking enforcements including ticketing, vehicle removal and number plate recognition cameras to tackle car park abuse.
We launched a Mobile Surveillance Vehicle that will roam our network, aimed at reducing crime on trains and in and around our stations. The Mobile CCTV Surveillance Vehicle was introduced following an initial trial, and will be used by our Rail Response Team officers. The vehicle is equipped with four state-of-the-art CCTV cameras, with 360 degree viewing and recording capability. It will be used to cover large-scale events, such as football matches, as well as routinely patrolling stations and car parks where no CCTV is currently available.
This will be in response to a reported or potential crime or to act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing a criminal act.
A number of stations either had upgraded or new CCTV systems installed during 2012. An example is Greenbank, a busy station on the Mid Cheshire line, which benefitted from a £25,000 investment with the introduction of a new CCTV system, funded in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council.
To try and reduce accidents, we developed a campaign to address the subject of behavioural safety in an attempt to make a serious step change. We wanted our colleagues to understand that they have to make a personal and conscious choice to change their behaviour for the safety and welfare of both themselves and their colleagues. In 2012 the campaign included safety roadshows, the development of an online game to test safety knowledge, plus a contest for colleagues' children to design posters that demonstrated key safe behaviours.