Union demands better safety aids after workers escape death
The general secretary for the union representing Rail, Maritime and Transport workers have said that a recent incident in which nine railworkers narrowly avoided death illustrates the dangers track workers on Britain’s railways face on a daily basis. The workers did not receive any warning that a train was approaching them at a speed of 80mph, forcing them to take immediate evasive action in a matter of seconds.
The railway employees were working on a bridge on a main line between Carnforth and Lancaster when the Edinburgh-to-Manchester train approached without warning. The curve of the track prevented clear views, so the workers were relying on a lookout operated manual warning system, which gives a visual and audio warning when a train approaches. The incident sparked an investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, which said that some of the workers were unable to get to a safe area in time so they pressed themselves against the bridge parapet.
The report said that the lookout equipment was being used by two workers who were situated on either side of the work site; one half a mile away watching for trains coming in from the north, the other to the south. The equipment was said to have been tested before the incident and been reported to be operating as normal. The union representative said that there had been concerns raised repeatedly about the safety of the lookout devices and that they hoped the investigation would force Network Rail to come up with a safer alternative.
Any employee who suffers a workplace accident may be entitled to compensation. Such accidents might include, yet not be limited to, a scaffolding fall, mine collapse, industrial accident or any other incident caused by unsafe working conditions or a safety hazard.
Source: Essex County Standard, “Rail workers seconds from death“, Oct. 24, 2014