Conference will question rail safety

09 October 2019

AS THE rail industry continues to grow, a leading conference will ask whether enough focus is being placed on the prevention of accidents and ill health.

Health and safety professionals and other senior leaders will gather in Manchester for IOSH’s annual Rail Industry Conference to discuss the challenges they face.

With greater demand for punctuality and improved trains meaning the next strategic planning phase is set to see greater focus on economic performance, IOSH’s Railway Group is determined to ensure health and safety remains at the forefront of minds.

Recently-released figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed that 17 passengers were killed and 377 suffered ‘major injuries’ in 2018-19. In the same year, two rail workers lost their lives and 6,247 were injured in accidents, 158 of them classed as ‘major injuries’.

These figures didn’t take account of the number of people becoming ill because they were exposed to diesel emissions, silica dust and other harmful materials and substances.

With more passengers using trains, carriages and platforms are often crowded. While larger stations are being transformed into modern retail outlets, making them even busier. These contribute to increasing health and safety risks.

The conference will ask if senior leaders are placing an appropriate emphasis on health and safety in their strategic planning and whether enough is being learned from past incidents.

David Porter, chair of the IOSH Railway Group, said, “As scrutiny of financial performance increases strong leadership on health and safety is necessary to ensure that there is appropriate attention on the risks to people, as well as the risks to the business.

“While our rail network is much safer now than ever, we cannot take our eye off the ball. But the industry is changing in response to growing passenger numbers and the demand this puts on the system. The approaches and techniques we have used in the past may not be enough to sustain improvements.

“Our conference will aim to get to the heart of the issues, to ask the questions that need to be asked over whether enough focus is being given to preventing accidents and ill health in our industry. Industry leaders must ensure health and safety is prioritised.”

The conference is being held at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum, between 9am and 4pm on Tuesday 19 November.

Speakers will include: Ian Prosser CBE, HM chief inspector of railways for the ORR; Greg Morse, of the Rail Safety and Standards Board; Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail; and Dr Pete Waterman OBE, chair of the Railway Heritage Trust.

At the event, the winners of the International Railway Group Awards will also be announced.