Southeastern, one of the busiest commuter rail networks in London, is facing a graffiti epidemic after having to implement stringent health and safety rules following the death of a cleaner in 2017.
As a result the company was hit with a £2.5 million fine in 2017 for breaching health and safety regulations that the London Evening Standard reports. An investigation found that cleaning facilities were taken out of service at other depots because of potential risks.
The inspection found that safety risks were present at depots where graffiti has to be removed and WCs emptied, a company spokesman explained. It’s thought that part of the problem has to do with electrical power rails that could possibly come into contact with water while cleaning graffiti.
Complaints have been made from commuters that increasing amounts of graffiti are appearing at several sites. And Southeastern itself has admitted that the issue has become “significantly worse” in the past three months, with incidents of vandalism on trains more than doubling.
“Everything has now been tightened down, as it should be, but it means a lot of the work is not getting done and that includes cleaning graffiti from trains … We’ve been installing temporary safety measures at nearly half of the locations we use to service toilets and clean graffiti off trains, and Network Rail and Southeastern are installing permanent safety improvements through a joint £5 million improvement programme over the next six to nine months,” the representative went on to comment.
This isn’t the first time that health and safety and graffiti have been linked, however. Back in 2012, the Health and Safety Executive looked into a case involving a charity that carried out works on local canals and rivers because it wasn’t allowing volunteers to remove graffiti on bridges because of health and safety risks.
The charity in question acknowledged that they did have responsibilities for the health and safety of volunteers as well as members of staff working across their sites. And as such it would be desirable if they were to engage effectively with those who do volunteer to make sure health and safety concerns were addressed in order for the volunteers to carry on contributing towards the upkeep of the UK’s waterways.
Where graffiti removal is concerned, you would be wise to carry out a risk assessment and method statement so you know that the correct method of use and application is being followed. If access to higher levels is necessary, all equipment should be inspected before use. General awareness of hazards associated with this kind of job is necessary as well and all training in the safe use and containment of the substances utilised to remove graffiti should also be provided.
If you need any help with anything relating to health and safety, such as the setting up of an emergency response team, get in touch with us here at HFR Solutions CIC today.