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RTBU NSW Statement on Cumberland Line service cancellations due to Asbestos Dust/Particles Found in C and K Sets

Jul 10, 2017Media releases News

On Friday July 7, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (NSW Branch) advised members that the union had been made aware that asbestos dust/particles had been found in various C and K Sets, particularly in the driver’s side Circuit Breaker panels.

The union understands that the asbestos was present in samples taken between March and June 2017 at both Flemington and Hornsby Maintenance Centres.

As a result, the RTBU formally wrote to CEO Mr Howard Collins seeking answers about the health and safety of all employees who may have come in contact with panels. This includes Train Crew, Fleet Maintenance and Train Presentation staff.

On Sunday evening Sydney Trains Acting Chief Executive Gary Pedersen issued a “Message” and “Q and A” confirming the presence of Asbestos Dust and offering his view that employees and passengers are safe. Given the serious health risk exposure to Asbestos Dust poses, the union considers these assurances as wholly inadequate.

Mr Pederson also stated that the discovery of Asbestos Dust was a result of remedial work to fit K and C set trains with the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system.

A similar situation arose in 2006 with the implementation of the Vigilance system.

In this instance, the then Deputy Premier Mr John Watkins intervened to advise that the NSW Government will not allow employees or the public to be exposed to risks of Asbestos.

Mr Watkins provided further assurances to members and the travelling public by engaging “external independent consultants” to confirm that there is no risk posed by any Asbestos products on our trains.

He also assisted in establishing a WorkCover consultative committee to ensure a coordinated response to the Asbestos Dust.

The RTBU Locomotive Division has written to management, asking that the same assurances be provided and the WorkCover consultative committee is re-established.

All rail staff have a right to know they are safe at work. Sydney Trains needs to be proactive about their employees’ health and transparent with information which may affect it.

Until these assurances can be provided, the RTBU has advised that it will support members who undertake a risk assessment about the safety of their work environment.

If their concerns have not been resolved, they have been advised to contact their line manager to seek further assurances/guarantees.

Some train crew have indicated that they have undertaken this risk assessment and are not satisfied that their work environment is safe.

This has resulted in the cancellation of some services on the T5 – Cumberland Line today, 10 July.

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