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Keeping Rail Workers with Visual or Hearing Impairments in a Job

Rail workers need to react to hazards quickly. If their vision and hearing does not meet the required standards they may have to leave their job. Is it in anyone’s interests that railways lose experienced staff?

​We identified the importance of considering not just the static visual acuity of drivers but also the dynamic visual acuity, and how this could impact signal sighting.  We also took a fresh look at the long-held assumption that normal colour vision is necessary to work safely in the industry and what tests are appropriate.


Giving staff digital hearing aids, rather than redeploying them, or accepting that they may have to leave the industry, has significant benefits.  Audiologists and occupational health specialists can apply a hierarchy of tests to determine whether hearing has returned to acceptable levels: real-ear measurements to determine the performance of the hearing aid; an aided thresholds test to indicate general compliance with hearing requirements; and a workplace assessment. In return, staff will need to keep their hearing aids in good condition and carry spare batteries with them while at work. 

Topics covered:

  • Responding to hazards
  • Visual and hearing impairments
  • Static visual acuity and dynamic visual acuity
  • Colour vision
  • Digital hearing aids
  • Testing hearing aid performance


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