BBMV denies ‘negative spy culture’ findings of independent Crossrail report

BBMV denies ‘negative spy culture’ findings of independent Crossrail report

BBMV denies ‘negative spy culture’ findings of independent Crossrail report

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BBMV denies ‘negative spy culture’ findings of independent Crossrail report.

Joint venture BBMV has challenged the findings of a leaked Crossrail report it commissioned last year of two of its Crossrail sites that claimed there was a “negative spy culture” on the sites.

The draft report by independent safety consultancy MindSafety, came to light in the Observer at the weekend but was produced for BBMV more than a year ago in March 2013.

It praised the “obvious good intentions” of Crossrail, the joint venture and site workers to deliver the project safely, but said relations between the client and contractors had been “strained almost to breaking point”.

Following two days of observations and interviews with client and contract staff at the Whitechapel and Finsbury Circus sites, MindSafety reported a perception “that the client was ‘policing’ the contractor” and said that “reports of spying and underhand tactics came flooding to us”.

It also found that “injured workers are afraid to report due to the likelihood of being laid off” and that there was apprehension or demotivation to report incidents at all levels.

The report was commissioned by the Balfour Beatty, BeMo Tunnelling, Morgan Sindall and Vinci Construction joint venture, which is delivering station and tunnel infrastructure at Liverpool Street station and Whitechapel station for Crossrail, worth up to £500m.

A spokeswoman for BBMV insisted it had enjoyed good relations with the Crossrail leadership team throughout the project and said the report did not reflect a poor safety culture at that time.

She added: “The draft report only contained contributions from a limited number of people and was not sufficient to give a true and accurate reflection of our Whitechapel and Finsbury Circus sites.”

A source close to the joint venture who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they believed the leak of the report was related to industrial politics and blacklisting.

The source said: “I don’t understand why this has suddenly surfaced. We had a patch where we didn’t get things right between the client and ourselves, but we are cracking on now and the relationship is a good one.

“The shame in many ways is that Crossrail is a good client and the relationship between BBMV, the workforce and client is first class. This was old news by last June, let alone now.”

The source insisted workers had avenues to submit anonymous reports of health and safety incidents and were encouraged to do so.

The March 2013 report found there was a “negative spy culture” and referred to “the secret photographing/videoing of incidents as they unfold” by Crossrail.

BBMV said the comments about secret filming of incidents related to just one individual.

A Crossrail spokesman told Construction News Crossrail does not have a need to undertake surveillance filming.

He said: “As part of their continuous safety improvement programme BBMV have filmed site specific training films with the full knowledge of everyone involved. BBMV like all other contractors have also installed CCTV on their sites.

“The reference in the draft BBMV report relates solely to a Crossrail project employee who when witnessing a potentially unsafe act recorded the situation on their mobile device alongside instructing those involved to cease immediately.”

Ucatt regional secretary for London and the South-east Jerry Swain said secretly filming workers was an infringement of their civil liberties, and the union is seeking a meeting with BBMV to discuss how consultation is undertaken with workers on safety.

Mr Swain said: “Employers need to understand that the perception of being victimised for reporting safety concerns is very serious, whether this is actually the reality or not.

“Given previous problems, workers are more likely to speak to a union safety rep about safety concerns than go directly to management.”

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