The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published its Annual Report on Health and Safety, reinforcing the need for continued focus on safety.
Although Britain’s railway remain one of the safest in Europe – something backed up by a recent report from the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) – the rate of improvement has shown signs of slowing down.
The ORR’s Annual Report on Health and Safety mirrors that of the RSSB’s on the subject of potentially stagnating improvement levels of safety.
The fact there have been seven passenger fatalities at the platform-train interface in the last year, and two members of staff were killed, in addition to two more worker deaths near Port Talbot, only serves to emphasise the need for the wider industry to keep working hard to improve the safety of staff, so that vital work on the railway is both planned and delivered safely.
Another consideration highlighted in the Annual Report on Health and Safety is the increasing pressure on the network; currently, the rail industry is dealing with the pressure of introducing hundreds of new trains, which will result in disruption.
The industry has a responsibility to manage the new risks as well as the extra demands this places on new staff members.
Increasing pressure is one of the three main challenges outlined in the report, alongside technological developments and supporting staff members.
Ian Prosser, ORR director of Safety and HM Chief Inspector of Railways, paid tribute to the staff members who lost their lives near Port Talbot recently, and said it is “vital” that lessons are learned.
“The fact that – despite this tragedy – Great Britain’s railway remains one of the safest in the world, is a tribute to the hard work, expertise and professionalism of tens of thousands of people employed across the industry.
“Nonetheless, we are facing significant challenges, not least around new rolling stock, the platform-train interfaces and trespass, and the whole industry must work together to ensure that safety standards are not allowed to slip.
“It is vital that lessons are learned when tragic accidents occur.”