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Rail occupational health figures 'wake-up' call

17 June 2019

THE RAIL industry needs to do more to protect workers from serious occupational and mental health issues, an experienced health and safety professional has warned.

IOSH Railway Group member Keith Morey believes recently-published figures from the UK’s Office of Road and Rail (ORR) are a “wake-up call” for the industry.

There were 91 reported cases of hand arm vibration syndrome in 2018-19, according to the new data. Since 2010, there have been 662 reports of the debilitating condition, caused by the repeated use of hand-held vibrating tools.

The figures also highlighted the fact that there were 483 injuries relating to manual handling – 157 of which led to employees needing time off work – while there were 1,054 cases of shock/trauma, relating to someone who has tried to commit suicide or has been affected by someone who has attempted it.

Mr Morey said that while there has been a recognition from the industry of the need to prioritise occupational and mental health – including the launch of a five-year project to encourage staff in the industry to donate time to support the Samaritans – more needs to be done.

He said: “These figures are a wake-up call. For some time, we have been focusing on occupational health and mental health, but clearly there remain significant issues so we must continue to strive for improvement.

“It is clear where the major issues are. We have to look at why there are still a large number of shock/trauma cases as well as injuries caused by manual handling.

“In terms of occupational health, anyone who suffers from HAVS will tell you how much of an impact it has on their life. It is unacceptable that people are suffering when it is entirely preventable. As an industry, we need to ensure that proper controls are in place to prevent people from suffering the terrible effects of HAVS.”