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Railtrack must prove workers meet new safety standards


HEALTH & SAFETY officials have ordered Railtrack to produce formal records of track work to prove that maintenance workers are meeting new safe working standards published earlier this month.

It emerged this week that Health & Safety Executive (HSE) served an improvement notice on Railtrack on 8 April to make it build up records of maintenance work carried out under a new safe working standard, published just two days before.

The track operator published the standard two days earlier in an attempt to reduce the number of track workers killed following intense industry pressure.

Railtrack standard RT/LS/S/019 aims to increase track worker safety by ensuring better planning of work and maximising the number of green zones when there are no trains running on the lines being worked on.

Railtrack directors had rejected two previous drafts of the standard amid fears it would disrupt services. (NCE 17 January).

Although no one has died on the track this year, six workers have died in the past 18 months.

Phil Dee, health and safety officer for the RMT union, welcomed the implementation, but said the new standard was only a 'first step'. He added that he would have to wait for implementation to see how it worked.

He said: 'There are many more changes needed.'

Railtrack non executive director Jim Cornell described the accident rate among track workers as 'unacceptable' and said the industry should be aiming for zero deaths 'year in year out'.

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