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A journalist with 13 years of experience on trade publications covering construction, local government, property, pubs, and transport.
November 2, 2017

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Croydon tram crash: Union strike over safety device

Unions have claimed the health of drivers has been put at risk by a safety device installed to prevent future tram crashes.

The unions, Aslef and Unite, claim the device, which is fully certified and has been widely used in the road haulage industry, has caused numerous health concerns for drivers – including blurred vision, headaches and dry eyes.

District organiser for Aslef, Finn Brennan, told local newspaper the Croydon Advertiser that around 20 members had reported concerns and warned of ‘potentially serious eye damage as a result of exposure to this device’.


But Transport for London have said the device, which was installed in October following recommendations by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch into last year’s Croydon tram crash, has been independently tested and certificated.

The Guardian device, produced by Australian-based firm Seeing Machines, has a face-facing beam monitor that assesses drivers’ eyes to ensure they are not suffering from fatigue or falling asleep. Information is then sent back to a central control centre.

If a driver’s awareness is not maintained, according to the data set, a vibration alert in the driver’s chair will be activated.

It uses small amounts of infrared light to sense drivers’ eyes and facial features in a dark environment – but less than 2% of what a person would receive from sunlight – and has been certified as safe for indefinite use.

According to the product’s website, it has already made 30,000 interventions on more than 2 million events detected on its network.


The first of the strikes will occur only days after the first anniversary of the crash on November 13. The second from Aslef, who has a member of around half of the drivers, will be on December 6.

A London Trams spokesman told the Croydon Advertiser: “Our thoughts remain with all those affected by last year’s tragic tram incident and we are doing all we can to support them.

“Improving safety is our number one priority and we have been working hard to introduce new measures on the tram network to protect customers and drivers.

“We will continue working alongside First Group and the unions on implementing this important safety device.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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Graham Hendry
Graham Hendry
6 years ago

It’s a bit of a one sided story until we hear the Unions evidence

6 years ago

I have worked extensively in the quarrying, surface and undergound mining industries across the world and these safety devices are in place in most larger organisations, especially for the night shifts. They are a useful tool, coupled with training and other measures, but they work. Public safety is the priority here, not some imagined health impact for which there is no evidence at all.
As with the current rail disputes concerning driver only trains, I feel there are other agendas being played out.