Examination of Witnesses (Questions 480-491)|
WEDNESDAY 5 DECEMBER 2001
480. The skills that you need to inspect and
see that the Underground is being run safely?
(Mr Coleman) In my own organisation?
481. In the country generally.
(Mr Coleman) We are training our own people. We have
taken a number of people from other parts of HSE who deal with
other industries, and we have provided them with substantial conversion
training to be able to contribute to the work which we are doing
in the railway sector, so we are training our own people in-house
to do the jobs which we need to do. Of course the Underground,
I am very much aware, have been recruiting people from other parts
of the railway industry and have also been recruiting people from
other parts of other industries. There are an awful lot of health
and safety people about.
482. So you think there are enough people to
do the job in the new set-up?
(Mr Coleman) Let me put it this way. I sincerely hope
so but I cannot give you an absolute assurance that that is the
case. It is something we have got to look at.
483. The last thing is, how far does the Health
and Safety Executive look at this in the round? It has been put
to me that at least two escalators were closed recently which
resulted in a substantial number of people not being able to use
a particular station. Probably some of those people were at risk
of being knocked down on the road. How do you weigh the safety
on the road with the safety of an escalator?
(Mr Coleman) The answer is, not directly when it comes
to a situation like that because the risks of the escalator failure,
and my people have been very much involved in the problems there,
are very substantial. Under the circumstances which pertain with
the kinds of problems which have existed it has been absolutely
right that the Underground took those escalators out of use when
they determined cracks. The second point is that when a station
loses enough means of transporting people from deep level to the
surface it is more or less obliged to close that station. One
naturally follows the other.
484. Even if there is a much greater risk of
people being injured on the road?
(Mr Coleman) You are asserting that but I think that
is very difficult to assess.
485. I am asking you. How do you make that comparison?
(Mr Coleman) I do not believe that it would be necessary
or profitable for me to make that assessment unless it was a very
significant or very in-your-face situation. The situation you
have described generates very specific risks in a very specific
place which can be quantified as against something which is so
nebulous as not to be able to be set against a specific risk.
486. Let us be a bit more precise rather than
being nebulous, Mr Coleman. Are you on time and on schedule with
your reports and are you convinced that when we get to the completed
report based on the new, not the present, arrangements you will
be able to grant a safety case at the date that you would expect
to grant it?
(Mr Coleman) I cannot give you an absolute assurance
of that because it depends on
487. Is there any reason why any members of
your staff should say that it is extremely unlikely?
(Mr Coleman) No, I cannot see that. Let me put two
things. One is that we do not yet know what the nature of the
document is which the underground is going to give us for 3.1.
It is their document, it is their safety case, so until we get
it it is very difficult to say how much difficulty we are going
488. We have been around that circle, Mr Coleman.
Supposing we get a hybrid company, part private, part national,
and it is a completely different beast from the one you have been
talking about, is that going to require a completely different
(Mr Coleman) It would certainly take more time to
do the job because it would be very much more work to do. Yes,
it would be more effort. Whether we could do that work in the
same time span that we are planning, I do not think I am able
to say because it depends on what we find.
489. Mr Coleman, would you like to go away and
jot down for us in very simple terms a little matrix that explains
to the Committee exactly at what points the contracts will need
to be given to you and what effect you will have at that point?
I think we would still like something just a little clearer that
says who does what to whom and when.
(Mr Coleman) Yes.
490. Perhaps you can explain to me when 3.1
will move up to being 3.2, or will it become 4?
(Mr Coleman) A good question. The configuration of
documents is an art in itself, it depends on the nature of the
revision, as you can probably tell.
491. Unfortunately, I think in this case it
does depend pretty much on the safety of people using London Underground
in the future.
(Mr Coleman) It most certainly does and can I say
that has always been our main aim.
Chairman: We have no criticism of your department
or you would know, Mr Coleman. Thank you very much both of you.