Railways provide service for millions of people every day across the UK, whether it’s helping people to make their daily commute, meet family or travel to business meetings.

Those who work on the railways to keep things moving along are often unsung heroes – especially given that their line of work comes attached with many inherent risks.

Here, we will examine what those risks are and look at ways in which employers can mitigate against them.

What are the risks for railway staff?

The number of ‘harmful incidents’ on the railways remained at consistent levels until the Covid-19 pandemic saw activity on the railways sharply drop – with reported accidents also going in the same direction.

  • Slips and trips: Stepping across rails and working in busy warehouses provide more opportunities for accidents to occur.
  • Assaults: It’s a sad fact that the rate of assaults that rail staff have experienced has risen sharply in recent years.
  • Heavy machinery: Whether it’s working with carriages and engines themselves, or the equipment used to maintain the railways, being around them poses many potential risks.

How to reduce risks for railway staff

If your business operates on the railways, there are several steps that you can take to increase the safety of your staff. However, accidents do happen, and it is vital that you have a robust railway business insurance package in case something does go wrong.

Proper planning

A comprehensive health and safety risk assessment will help you to identify all potential causes of accidents and injuries before a job is undertaken.

Putting measures in place to mitigate against those accidents is then made clearer and you can train staff before they reach the jobsite on exactly what they must do to protect themselves and their colleagues.

This may involve restricting movements in certain areas, restricting the use of equipment to certain staff or working at designated times of the day.

Invest in PPE

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) won’t stop an accident from happening in the majority of cases, but it can help to guard against serious injuries or even fatalities if something does go wrong.

Hard hats, protective footwear and hi-vis clothing are all non-negotiables in this working environment. Equipment that protects the eyes is also vital in settings where small objects can be thrown into the air at random.

Avoid fatigue

When scheduling your working days on a railway project, it’s important to factor in individual fatigue – as sloppy working practices can often greatly increase the chances of an accident happening.

Keep shifts on the shorter side and afford your staff plenty of breaks to rest and recuperate among what can often be a physically demanding workload.