Track Worker Safety

Recent incidents at Margam, Stoats Nest, and subsequently to this project Roade, have sharpened the industry’s focus on track workers, and in particular their exposure to moving trains. Supporting Network Rail’s Track Worker Safety Task Force, RSSB’s data insights team has investigated track worker safety, to identify any key safety insights or observations that can be taken from the data.

This data analysis resulted in five key findings. The findings have been incorporated into Network Rail’s Track Worker Safety Task Force, and existing initiatives have been mapped to each finding that address the areas of concern highlighted by the analysis.

  1. Impeded safe walking routes and cess are commonly highlighted as an issue in near misses

    Initiative: The Track Worker Safety Task Force has invested in improvements to the cess and walkways at key access points.

  2. The process for implementing Safe Systems of Work (SSOWs) is commonly highlighted as a factor in near misses. The process for using range finders should also be clarified and made more reliable.

    Initiative: Upskilling the Person in Charge (PIC) and creating a PIC competence to reduce the risk of errors. Enhanced assurance checks of SSOW packs against the process to reduce the likelihood of failures when implementing SSOWs.

  3. The process for creating SSOW packs is commonly highlighted as a factor in near misses. It should be reviewed to reduce the likelihood of producing incomplete SSOW packs or SSOW packs with errors

    Initiative: Network Rail will roll out of updated SSOW packs that will automatically drive compliance against the SSOW pack process at the point of creation. It will introduce an auditable, digitally recorded process for pack review and approval will reduce errors.

  4. Loss of situational awareness is commonly identified as a factor in near misses

    Initiative: Encouraging the use of the one-page SSOW pack that contain clear schematics and fixed reference points for orientation.

    Initiative: Investigating the adoption of digital ‘geo-fencing’ equipment using body worn trackers to warn the wearer if they stray towards open lines or outside of protection limits.

  5. RSSB will work with Network Rail, the Infrastructure Safety Leadership Group (ISLG) and other industry partners to improve the data and metrics that it uses to monitor track worker safety

    Initiative: Network Rail will revise its accident investigation forms, to ensure that meaningful and useful data is captured consistently and promptly after an incident.

These findings validate the money allocated to the Track Worker Safety Task Force, and that existing and planned initiatives will address the right areas. The improvements made by the task force will increase the safety of track workers on or about the line, benefitting the whole industry.

About the data insight:

RSSB worked closely with Network Rail supporting their Track Worker Safety Task Force and the Near Miss Reduction Programme to investigate track workers exposure to moving trains. The analysis made use of the data available to RSSB from the Safety Management Intelligence System (SMIS), Close call and Network Rail’s investigation reports. The overall objective of the project was to inform Network Rail and its contractors on the nature and causes of track worker risk and help identify where safety improvements should be made.

The data analysis explored key areas including the distribution of track worker near misses by protection type and workforce role to identify whether certain ways of working or specific roles were more at risk. Additionally, locations and routes where near misses have been recorded were investigated to identify any commonality or specific features that increased the risk to track workers. Furthermore, the underlying causes of near misses were determined to understand what potential factors were leading to near misses and identify areas that could be improved.



RED 56 - Close Calls and Near Misses
Track worker safety presentation thumbnail
Track Worker Safety Insight Sprint
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