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Rail companies collaborate to take on refreshed health and safety strategy

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Rail body RSSB has published a new version of the industry’s shared strategy, Leading Health and Safety on Britain’s Railway.

While Britain’s railways are renowned for being among the safest in the world, it is only because the industry has a track record of getting a grip on the risks it faces and targeting intervention where required collaboratively, according to RSSB.

The updated strategy sets out the areas where the rail industry needs to work together to achieve a step change in health and safety performance, recognising that there are still significant risks involved in signals passed at danger, trespass, and workforce safety. 

Health and wellbeing have also come to the fore as an area where despite notable recent achievements, more attention is needed to understand how it contributes to better safety and performance in the round.

There is also recognition that the Covid-19 pandemic is putting additional strain on Britain’s railways, not just in terms of the health and wellbeing of the workforce, but also in managing risk proactively under more pressure, with less resource, or as a result of restrictions on people’s behaviour and movement.

Front-line staff and senior management are both under immense pressure and so RSSB is keen to ensure personnel are free from unnecessary calls on their time but can still participate in the workstreams remotely.

Rail safety leads are being encouraged to continue working together during the Covid-19 pandemic, using on-line collaboration tools and virtual meetings. Ahead of an official launch later in the year, rail companies should start familiarising themselves with the strategy to get a feel for the step change it’s aiming for, says RSSB.

Ali Chegini, RSSB’s Director of System Safety and Health said: 

Britain's railway system is one of the safest and most intensively used rail networks in the world. But we can’t take that for granted - it relies on everyone playing their part. As a system we can’t just rely on the positive endeavours of individual companies, it needs everyone to cooperate and consider the bigger picture. That means stepping up to share data and join in the collaborate effort to manage risks. 

‘The Covid-19 pandemic introduces an extra layer of urgency around dealing with the health and safety risk it introduces either directly or as a by-product of significant changes to the way the railway operates in the face of new operational challenges.

‘I recommend industry’s safety leaders become familiar with the updated strategy and take part in its fulfilment through the various groups, projects and programmes we will be kicking off in the weeks and months ahead.’

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