The level of workforce harm on Britain’s mainline railway increased by 4% last year, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has reported.
The increase was largely driven by an increase in injuries among train drivers and on-board crew. There was one fatality. The ORR said the increase can also be explained by the improved reporting of minor injuries following its exposure of areas of inadequate safety reporting at Network Rail.
There was again a welcome downward trend in harm to infrastructure workers, says the ORR, who are generally at the highest risk on the railway. “Network Rail still has a long way to go in improving its safety culture, although they now have a plan in place, which we fully support,” it says. “Workforce safety remains one of our key priorities in all railway sectors.”
The ORR’s annual health and safety report 2011/12 provides an update on key health and safety issues facing Britain’s railways. This year’s report highlights a number of successes, including a 12% reduction in the level of passenger harm to the lowest level ever recorded and London Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway all achieving a year without any workforce and industry caused passenger fatalities. Level crossing safety also improved, as levels of recorded harm reduced by 15% over the past year, maintaining historically low rates.
The report does highlight areas of concern however, including a delay in vital maintenance work.
“While Network Rail is ensuring Britain’s railways are safely maintained, we have also seen an increasing backlog of work, as some parts of Network Rail’s maintenance organisation appear to be under-resourced,” says the report. “Network Rail has responded to this issue by committing additional resources, which ORR will be monitoring throughout 2012/13.