Government rules out PPE for transport workers

15/04/2020
Dominic Browne

The Government's action plan for the supply and delivery of PPE does not allocate any to transport workers despite 26 having died in the capital alone from COVID-19 so far.

The action plan states: 'WHO (World Health Organisation) and UK guidance follows the science and is not advising the use of masks in public places and for those working in supermarkets, waste collection, schools, transport and similar settings.'

”Local
 
Outside of the NHS and social care, the UK Government and devolved administrations published guidance for those cleaning non-health care settings, those working in the management and care of deceased, and prisons and other prescribed places of detention and first responders.

'Currently, these are the only sectors outside of health and social care which that we believe have a clinical need for PPE.'

Transport for London (TfL) has said that of the colleagues it has lost to the coronavirus so far, 20 were bus workers, four Tube and rail workers, one staff member from its head office and one from a partner organisation.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) union said members who were not given the necessary protection measures must refuse to work.

General secretary Mick Cash said RMT had advised members in rail and bus sectors across the country to 'stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from COVID-19'.

'That means that if they are not provided with PPE, including masks, eye defenders and gloves where necessary, they should not be working.'

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been criticised by unions for not providing enough protection for transport workers. However, the mayor said he is following government advice and has asked TfL to look into the availability of PPE stock for transport workers should the advice change.

All drivers on London Buses are shielded from public interaction by a clear protective screen. Enhancements have been made on the majority of buses to ensure this screen provides even higher levels of protection. A plastic film is used to cover holes in the screen.

Extensive daily cleaning takes place across London's network, ensuring that ‘touch points’ on buses (including steering wheel, poles, doors and handles) are treated with antiviral cleaner (as used elsewhere in TfL) every night after the regular cleaning is completed. Bus garages and rest rooms are similarly treated daily.

TfL has also asked customers to not sit in seats nearest to bus drivers and signs are now out on the network and on some buses it has trialled only allowing passengers in through the back door to avoid contact.

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