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IOSH focus on railway safety

25 October 2018

LEARNING LESSONS from past incidents is a key component in the search for a safer and healthier rail industry, a major sector conference will hear.

While rail is a comparatively safe way to travel and work, there are still instances of passengers and workers being killed and injured in accidents or suffering ill health because of exposure to harmful substances.

In the UK, there were seven passenger fatalities in 2017-18, as well as 318 major injuries on the national rail system. Causes ranged from platform edge incidents and contact with objects and other people to slips, trips and falls.

In the same year, two workers were killed and 6,661 injured in workplace incidents. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) annual Rail Industry Conference in Manchester will look at what lessons can be learned from these and how they can be used to prevent incidents in the future.

David Porter, Chair of IOSH’s Railway Group, said: “When you compare with the number of deaths and injuries on the roads, railways are a safe form of transport. And organisations in the industry mostly take their responsibility for occupational health and safety very seriously.

“Why is the industry safe? We have learned the lessons of yesteryear. In the early days of the UK’s railway, for example, there were huge numbers of risks such as lack of signalling, exploding engines and poor braking systems. Lessons from these were learned and changes were made to making things safer.

“But we cannot ignore the fact that incidents do still happen. Just one person being killed or injured, or suffering ill health, as a result of travelling or working on the railways is one too many. We must push to make the railways safer. To do that, we need to examine past incidents and ask ourselves what we can take from them and how we can prevent repeats.

“We also must consider that as new technologies are introduced, new risks are presented to us. So, we must always be on our toes to protect passengers, the public and workers.”

Among the incidents which will be examined is the tram derailment at Sandilands in London in November 2016, which killed seven people and injured 62 more.

Other issues around light rail safety will be explored, as will station safety management and mental health and stress issues. The conference is being held at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Tuesday 20 November. For more information, visit www.iosh.co.uk/railconference