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Minimum age for volunteer crews

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Steve, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I'm interested to know the minimum age for volunteer crews on any heritage railways large and small. The NYMR have 16 for firemen and 21 for drivers. Not sure about guards. Middleton has 21 for drivers and 18 for firemen and guards. I recall that the TR had 13 year old firemen many years ago. I certainly started my footplate career well before 16 but that was before people were bothered about such things. Just curious as to what happens elsewhere.
     
  2. Steamie Boxes

    Steamie Boxes Member

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    Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is 16 for guards and 21 for driving
     
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  3. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    At the SVR, the minimum age is 18 for firemen and 21 for drivers. There is a compulsory retirement age of 75 for both grades.
     
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  4. Ken_R

    Ken_R Member

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    Back to the original question....

    See the HRA document https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...ung+People+and+Heritage+Railways+19-07-18.pdf

    I believe Lord Faulkner(sp) of Worcester is an active member of a Parliamentary Group that are seeking an Amendment/Exemption in relation to Heritage Railways. Until such occurs, the Heritage sector is bound by the 1920 Act.
     
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  5. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    On the Bluebell, according to our volunteering page:

    "There is a lower age limit of 16 years for footplate work and no upper age limit."
    Note the lower limit doesn't distinguish between cleaner, fireman and driver, though I think it would be exceptionally unusual to progress to driver within the five years implied by your limit of 21.

    I believe the lower limit for starting guards training would also be 16; however, you would normally be expected to have spent some time in other operational duties (typically platform staff) before going onto the guards training programme.

    Tom
     
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  6. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Working time rules come into it at some point I seem to recall, under 18s cannot work more than 8 hours a day? That may affect how volunteers can be rostered.
     
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  7. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    That depends on whether the person is at work. Under the Working Time Regulations a 'worker' has to have a contract of employment or any other contract, whether express or implied and work is construed accordingly. The HRA say that you should not enter into any agreement with a volunteer that can be construed as a contract of employment. I don't know whether it has been tested in the courts as to whether these regulations apply. NYMR footplate turns are certainly longer than 8 hours , as I suspect, are many others.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
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  8. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Interesting about the 75 year limit. A colleague who had a footplate trip on the SVR a few days ago said that his driver was 81. The NYMR's oldest driver was 80. I understand that upper age limits are illegal and that the only bar to age is fitness, competence and ability.
    One constraint on the NYMR is height. Generally has to be between 5'-4" & 6'-4" but head of department has discretion after consulting with the Railways doctor. Anywhere else have similar criteria? With NER locos and their narrow cab doorways I do wonder if a maximum waist measurement ought to be a condition! I do know some footplate crews who can only get out on one side when the locos are on one of the curved shed roads.:)
     
  9. flying scotsman123

    flying scotsman123 Part of the furniture

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    Thanks for that Steve, seems to be lots of scope for varying interpretations then. Volunteers are classed as workers under H+S legislation, but not necessarily under working time regs then. Presumably compulsory breaks are equally up for interpretation.
     
  10. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Steve, Your friend must be mistaken, as I can assure you that we have no active drivers over the age of 75. The retirement age is part the railway's SMS and thus is not illegal.

    Edit. It is possible that your friend was on the footplate last week with an ex BR man who organises footplate experience days. He is always accompanied by one of our own (younger) rostered drivers.

    Andy
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2019
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  11. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Andy,
    You are right in suggesting that it was a footex. That will solve the mystery without anyone being mistaken.
     
  12. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    I quote from HSE guidance http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/faqs/charities.htm:
    "Health and safety legislation doesn’t generally apply to someone who is not an employer, self-employed or an employee.

    The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) and the regulations made under it apply if any organisation (including a voluntary organisation) has at least one employee.

    The HSW Act sets out the general duties that employers have towards employees. It also requires employers and the self-employed to protect people other than those at work (eg members of the public, volunteers, clients and customers) from risks to their health and safety arising out of, or in connection with, their work activities
    ."

    Common law does apply, though, so a volunteer cannot do something that would be dangerous to others.

    For those heritage railways which don't employ anyone and thus have no one 'at work', there is a catch-all in Section 4 which applies to persons concerned with premises.
     
  13. mdewell

    mdewell New Member

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  14. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    The point about illegality (big disclaimer: I am not a lawyer) is that you can’t discriminate on the basis of age, but can on the basis of capability to do the job. So if you have certain medical standards (eyesight, hearing, agility etc) you deem as necessary for footplate work, you can’t say “you can’t do this job over age 75 because you won’t be fit enough”; you have to test the actual characteristics you consider relevant, typically by regular medical assessment.

    The SMS should define the standards expected and how they will be assessed; however, in itself, it can’t absolve the railway from the wider law, i.e. the SMS should set standards (and ways they are tested) that is compliant.

    The IANAL disclaimer: for volunteer roles, I am not sure the extent to which anti-discrimination law applies as it would do if you were advertising for paid staff to carry out the same duty.

    The same, incidentally, for provision of services. If you offer a paid footplate experience, I believe you can’t put an upper age limit on it, but could require as a pre-condition sufficient agility to get on and off a loco (e.g. from ground level). I believe a railway (was it Peak Rail?) fell foul of that a few years ago when they refused an elderly customer the ability to take part in a course they had booked.

    Tom
     
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  15. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Tom, I am not sure that you are correct on this matter, as I believe that there is a derogation from age discrimination legislation for certain safety critical jobs. I believe that this derogation covers such occupations as the armed forces, fire-fighters and policemen etc. It is not just hearing, eyesight and agility that need to be considered for older footplatemen, but also degradation of their mental capacity and speed of reaction, which can sometimes be difficult to ascertain during a standard medical examination.

    I am sure that the SVR will have taken professional advice on this subject.

    I agree that you cannot put an upper age limit on footplate experience participants under present age discrimination legislation.

    Andy
     
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  16. howard

    howard Member

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    Having realised that I have to concentrate harder to do the job and therefore I’m possibly not quite as safe as I used to be I’m coming off the footplate this year at 75. Having watched someone else in my position hang on as long as he could get away with it I think that is the right decision.
     
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  17. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Steve, to make matters a bit clearer, the ex BR man who organises the footplate experience events is not an SVR driver. The railway facilitates the events he organises by providing a loco, stock and rostered driver & fireman.

    Andy
     
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  18. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    I commend your decision. I think that there are very few people indeed who retain the necessary combination of physical and mental agility past the age of 75.

    After more than 48 years on the footplate, I too am proposing to retire this year. I believe that as a driver you have a responsibility to be honest with yourself about the effects of age on your ability to do the job.

    Andy
     
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  19. 35B

    35B Resident of Nat Pres

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    ASLEF have agreed to apply mandatory retirement ages to footplate work on some mainline TOCs, which appear to have resisted any legal challenge. I do note, however, that not all employers have implemented these, and that they may differ from railway to railway. With the IANAL caveat firmly in mind, this layman finds it slightly hard to believe that a limit which is applied on safety grounds in one place should not be applied in other places too for what is substantively the same job and would be interested to know if there is any railway case law that might be relevant.
     
  20. Andy Williams

    Andy Williams Member

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    Whilst I know of main-line drivers who have continued past the age of 65, I don't personally know of any who are over the age of 75.
     

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