The railway infrastructure should always be in the best condition to support the many trains that run on the rails at speeds of up to 90MPH. Such demands and the nature of the work makes the railway a dangerous occupation. Installing the tracks and maintaining them is a feat in ensuring the safety of trains. Moreover, this is coupled with railway safety training and knowing how to operate the various controls. But every railway employee faces risks and challenges when on the job, be it a thermite welder, track laborer, or excavator operator.
As envisioned in the RSSB, the rail safety authority in UK is tasked with enforcing rail safety rules and regulations as well as setting standards for the railway track in the UK. The laws are meant to ensure railway companies adhere to basic safety standards, to help identify and address potential risks and dangers, as well as ensure all grade crossings are safe.
At RSSB, we are responsible for the safety of the tracks we lay and associated infrastructure, all equipment, and operations. It is a requirement that even other companies authorized to operate as federal or local railway companies should uphold. We have seen and learned a lot in our years of working in this sector and having dealt with different clients. That is why we have compiled some tips that will help your railway crew to be ready for any scenario.
1. Offer Role-Specific Railway Safety Training
Every worker, irrespective of their occupation or position, should have a basic knowledge of how to stay safe when they step into the property. They need to know how to safely handle different tools and equipment. That is why we invest a lot in railway training, especially for the new staff, on safety regulations and standards. We educate them on the different job sites and conditions so that they understand what each entail, and this is through a combination of practical and classroom lessons.
We also have role-specific training programs designed to prepare our staff further for their respective duties. For instance, a boom truck who handles a 10-ton vehicle on the track to pick up rail should undergo a more rigid program that entails weekly progress reports and the milestones to achieve compared to what a basic track laborer will have to take.
2. Impose A Probation Period For New Hires
The employee will take part in courses such as building or taking apart a section of the track and will be under close supervision and mentorship for the 3-month probation period. After the three months, the supervisors will determine whether the new hire is the right fit for the job.
3. Implement A Mentorship Program
The railway is an environment where it can be hard to identify all the possible scenarios that employees will face, let alone address all of them. After the new staff has completed the training period, they are paired with the existing and seasoned railroaders for added guidance, coaching, and mentorship on their work responsibilities. At RSSB, we pride ourselves of having experienced and accomplished supervisors and foremen who have more than 30 years of experience in the railway industry. With their vast knowledge and expertise in the field, they can transfer what they know to the new employees.
4. Complete Regular Compliance Audits
The importance of a compliance audit is to help you educate your employees on safety practices. In most cases, the audit should be done out in the field. As such, we routinely take our crew to one of the many job sites that we have across the UK for the compliance audit to ensure that they are adhering to all set standards. It is a proactive means of identifying and instilling professionalism the accepted or expected work-habits. It also helps reduce risks ass well as potential failures thus reducing injuries and incidents. We do this by educating our employees on the failures that we have come across in previous jobs or other work sites.
5. Communicate Railway Safety Trends To All Employees
As railway contractors, RSSB works together with our foremen, supervisors, and clients to ensure all required inspections are done and recommendations based on the findings of the job site testing enforced. We also make sure that maintenance programs are followed and all regulatory requirements met. We send out safety-focused newsletters to all our employees to ensure they are fully informed of what is required and expected. The information we send will also include environmental changes and other issues that the compliance audit highlighted to watch out for. It is all in a bid to create awareness in our crew and help them discuss and know how to address issues when they are out in the field.