Britain’s railway is one of the safest in the world and has continued to improve over the past 10 years. The industry now wants to create a matching step change in how we manage risk to workforce health and wellbeing. Across the rail sector, sickness has been found to be more than twice the national rate (ONS, 2019), translating into 1,346,659 days lost to sickness each year. The total costs of impaired health are estimated to be about £889m each year.

The ORR (2019) has seen gains made in addressing key issues such as mental ill-health, musculoskeletal disorders and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome. And yet there is still much work to do. Gathering better intelligence is a priority, as it will allow us to target workplace interventions to deliver long-term benefits. This can contribute to an improvement in the quality of rail workers' lives, secure more consistent legal compliance, and increase productivity. The associated cost savings will free up valuable industry resources.

What the rail industry is doing

The Rail Wellbeing Alliance has brought together senior leaders from across the industry, to inspire healthy living across the railway. It facilitates collaboration and provides strategic development and monitoring of industry progress. The alliance oversees seven workstreams to address the seven strategic challenges outlined in LHSBR, along with cross-industry work on fatigue.

The cross-industry health and wellbeing roadmap focuses on improving data and analytic capability to inform decision-making; evaluating and implementing evidence-based interventions; and sharing good practice.

The Rail Wellbeing Alliance has curated Rail Wellbeing Live as a good practice forum. The first annual event took place online in November 2020.

Strategic challenges 

Workforce health and wellbeing - strategic challenges diagram Figure 1: Rail industry strategic challenges for workforce health and wellbeing

How to get involved 

There are many opportunities for you to contribute to leading health and safety on Britain’s railways.  


RSSB offers Mental Health Awareness Training for anyone who is interested in improving their understanding of mental health—from staying well to recognising signs of deteriorating mental health.

RSSB also offers Mental Wellbeing Training for Line Managers. Using rail specific case studies, the training will provide line managers with information to support mental wellbeing in their teams and spot signs of stress.

Watch our training video ‘RED 52 – Mental Health’ for operational safety information on this topic