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Lookout dies as Railtrack reviews track worker rules

RAILTRACK SAID this week that it was revising regulations covering the employment of track workers in an attempt to end confusion over safety responsibilities.

New track working regulations issued by the track operator will attempt to limit the use of agency staff as lookouts.

Last week a sub-contracted worker died when he was hit by two trains while acting as a lookout for an inspection gang.

He is the third lookout to be killed in the past 10 months and his death comes as Railtrack finalises proposals to change employment rules for track workers.

The man who died last week was was hit simultaneously by a Connex train and Gatwick express between Purley and Purley Oakes, south London.

He was acting as a lookout for a gang undertaking ultrasonic testing of the line, checking for gauge corner cracking.

The gang was working on a curve with a slow and a fast line in each direction.

It is believed the dead man was standing in the 'six foot' - a gap between a fast and a slow line - when two trains approached from opposite directions.

The inspection gang was working for Amec Rail, the maintenance contractor for the area.

But the victim was employed by a subcontractor, Maples, and supplied by Amec owned recruitment agency Primat Personnel Services.

It is expected that Railtrack's new guidelines will be rubber stamped in August.

The move is believed to be the first step towards Railtrack exerting greater control over employment conditions within the track work sector.

All three of the fatalities in the past 12 months have been on live work sites manned with lookouts.

But Railway Industry Group standard 5A, produced by Railtrack division Railway Safety, states that Green Zone working - track possessions - should be used wherever possible (NCE 15 February).

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