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He said: “I think a big focus for the industry has been around planning possessions, to make sure that people are in the right place at the right time. The industry is making progress in reducing the exposure of people to the risk apparent on the railway.”

Tired out

Mills added that for workforce safety risks, fatigue is clearly a “very hot topic”. Working in a 24/7 industry can make this challenging, Mills said, with fatigue increasing the potential for errors.

“Whilst I wouldn’t say necessarily we’ve got lots and lots of events being caused by fatigue, it’s certainly an area of great concern for our companies.”

In response to a fatigue risk management guide the ORR published to underpin ROGS regulations, train operating companies are now looking at how they can have “a broad portfolio in terms of managing fatigue”, she said.

“It’s not just looking at rosters now, it’s considering how you educate your staff about the issues, and how you try to proactively understand whether or not you have any particular practices which are more fatiguing to your staff.”

In terms of responsibility for this risk, the regulations

clearly state that it is shared

between the company, which must ensure its working practices aren’t overly fatiguing, and the individual, who must come to work well rested.

Integrated information

New technological advancements that are helping to boost safety include the provision of smartphones and portable devices for track workers. This equipment can avoid mix- ups over location, provide quality mapping information and allow workers to relay the right procedures at the right time.

“That’s a fairly recent initiative that’s proving to be quite successful. The other advantage of having that kind of equipment is that you can take photographs and upload them fairly quickly for people to be able to look at if there are defects out on the track,” Dennis said.

“That’s the kind of integrated approach to information that helps everybody manage the railway.

“It’s probably one of the more technologically based initiatives that’s going on at the moment with a direct affect on the risk exposure of the guys out on the track.”

Measuring safety performance is now an internationally led project that “focuses on trying to develop leading indicators, rather than just waiting for something to happen and recording the number of accidents or the number of broken rails”.

n and recording the number of

“From the pilot studies we’ve done so far, it’s looking like a positive way forward

for the

industry,” Dennis explained.

The new measurements use different thresholds for risk, alongside ORR’s ROGS

model and the drive towards a ‘safety culture’.

Mills said: “It’s about having, you could say, the triangulation of data at different points. You shouldn’t just rely on one measure, for example having information from frontline staff about things that could have potentially gone wrong but didn’t.

“That’s all useful information to help you understand whether or not your safety management you’ve put in place is really functioning as they should do.”

Safety resurgence

The talk of ‘safety culture’ is certainly very topical in the industry, with companies keen to move theirs forward. She commended Network Rail’s work in this area as “very impressive” and said that culture had to be changed both from top-down and bottom-up.

The rail industry has clearly been involved in human factors work since the 1960s, but Mills and Dennis agreed the past decade has seen a clearer focus on it as an area of research.

Dennis said: “I don’t think much is done these days without some kind of human factors element being considered.”

i More stories like this at: railway-safety-and-crime

Colin Dennis


rail technology magazine Dec/Jan 13 | 71 Anne Mills

Mills welcomed this, as it means acknowledging the “human in the system”. She said: “It’s not just a focus on the technology.

“It’s thinking about the implications on how changes in procedures, introduction of equipment and so forth will impact on our front line staff.”

Investment in technology across the whole industry can also be used to tackle fatigue, and human factors are now considered in systems such as ERTMS, through a “user sensitive approach”, Mills added.

International records

From the top: Graham Arkwright, Maria Hedqvist and Sandeep Jain

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