Railway workers ‘the last line of defence preventing a major failure’
Railway operators need to do more to support their workers, who are coming under increasing pressure, according to a new report.
The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) Annual Report on Health and Safety Performance concludes that while Britain’s railways remain safe, more must be done to support staff who are “the last line of defence preventing a major failure”.
In particular, it calls on operators to focus on ensuring they support them through a “strong culture of occupational healthcare, particularly mental health, as well as fatigue and competency management”.
The report also reveals there were two workforce fatalities during 2017-18 – one was related to railway operations and the other to natural causes.
It adds the industry is making good progress with the changes recommended by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, following their investigation into the Croydon tram derailment in 2016.
It also states that while technological improvements can improve safety, performance and value for money, operators must pay close attention to how workers interact with the new systems.
The ORR report comes as Network Rail warns that the number of young people taking risks on tracks has soared by almost 80% in the last five years.
Figures published yesterday by Network Rail revealed more than a quarter of teenagers (27%) have confessed to behaving in a way that could endanger their life on the railway.
And one in 10 teenagers admitted to walking along the railway line, including more than two fifths (42%) in the last year.
HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, said: “It is a tribute to the hard work, expertise and professionalism of everyone connected to the railways that our network remains one of the safest in the world.
“However, the tragedy at Croydon remains fresh in all of our memories and that, alongside the pace of change on the railway, places staff and infrastructure under increasing pressure,” added Mr Prosser.
“The ORR will work with the industry to protect the health and well-being of staff, meet the many challenges that the industry faces and ensure that passengers continue to travel in safety.”
To read the full ORR annual report, click here.
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