Track Worker Safety

Track Worker Safety is a key focus area for Railway Safety. Any accidental fatality to a member of the workforce is unacceptable. In the relatively recent past the Railway Group has achieved zero worker fatalities for periods in excess of twelve months. Four track workers were killed after being struck by trains in 2001/02, the worst record since 1992/93 when six were killed.

Railway Safety leads initiatives in workforce safety through the objectives published in the Railway Group Safety plan and other activities.

Track Safety Strategy Group

The Track Safety Strategy Group (TSSG) is a cross industry forum with representation from Infrastructure Maintenance Contractors (IMCs), Railway Safety, Railtrack PLC (in administration), HMRI, trades unions and the wider industry. The Group is sponsored by Railway Safety and exists to improve the safety of those who work on or about the operational railway.

TSSG is chaired by Railway Safety Director, Policy and Standards, Aidan Nelson, and facilitates the progressive improvement of track worker safety through the identification, discussion, development and promotion of justifiable and potentially effective measures. It is an independent focus group, with no statutory responsibilities. The Track Safety Strategy Group meets six times per year to work towards the following objectives:

Develop long term goals for industry improvement in trackside safety and suggest the means to measure progress towards their achievement. Provide input to the development of the Railway Group Safety Plan.

Develop and progress a TSSG plan of work with long-term goals and specific milestones set and reviewed annually.

Consider how technology and procedural change could be harnessed to deliver practical, innovative solutions to on track protection requirements, facilitate their trial and monitor their implementation.

Consider Railway Group Standards and supporting codes of practice and guidance on track safety issues and to make recommendations as to their development through subject committees and/or the designated Railway Safety manager of standards change proposals.

Provide leadership through the distribution of effective briefing materials to enhance safety awareness, communicate track safety developments and encourage a positive safety culture at all levels within the industry.

Support industry partners in the continual improvement of track safety competency through the development of training material and the definition of standards.

Promote the timely adoption of lessons learned from the investigation of track safety incidents and possession irregularities.

Provide a cross industry forum for the free exchange of track safety ideas and a means of developing them, where appropriate, into practical benefits.

Identify and promote the need for research into track safety issues.

Actively seek out, consider and present alternative safe practices from other countries and industries.

Provide leadership to new railway companies through a better understanding of their safety needs and challenges.

TSSG Priority Issues

The TSSG discusses and promotes a wide variety of issues at its meetings and has promoted the use of Automatic Track Warning Systems (ATWS) and Track Circuit Operating Devices (TCODs) in recent years.

The TSSG has identified five priority issues to be tackled.

The five priority areas are:

  • Achieving the mindset that green zones are the first choice and automatic track warning systems second.
  • Targeted worksite hazard reduction and safer cesses.
  • Improving the planning and execution of the work on or about the line.
  • Competence assurance of all safety-critical staff.
  • Enhancing safety awareness for all.

These priorities have been incorporated into the Railway Group Safety Plan 2002/03.