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Track worker fatally struck by train

A track worker who was fatally struck by a passenger train in Guildford, Western Australia had no form of protection such as a lookout, at the work site, according to the ATSB’s final investigation report.

Intersection of the rail accident in Guildford, Western Australia

On 10 February 2015, a Public Transport Authority (PTA) maintenance crew commenced work at Meadow Street in Guildford. The crew was maintaining the pedestrian gates adjacent to the level crossing.

At about 10.35 am, one of the track workers was struck by a Perth-bound suburban passenger train. Tragically, the track worker died in the accident.

The ATSB investigation found that the PTA maintenance workers had not implemented any form of track worker protection at the work site. This was partially due to the PTA not having documented instructions specifying the level of protection required, preferring that track workers make their own assessment based on their knowledge of the Network Rules. The ATSB found that, under these arrangements, track workers could make an incorrect assessment, placing themselves at a greater risk of being struck by a train.

A review of the safeworking training provided to the track workers found that the training material did provide a suitable level of safe-working knowledge.

Following the occurrence, the toxicology report on the deceased track worker identified the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine; methamphetamine being a prescribed drug under the Rail Safety Regulations 2011. The use of stimulants such as methamphetamine is associated with a range of neurocognitive effects in humans that may affect performance.

The ATSB found that in this instance, the presence of a prescribed drug within the worker’s system appeared to be a relatively isolated case. An examination of the company’s drug and alcohol policy/procedures found them to be generally effective in managing drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

The PTA issued a safety alert following the incident to highlight the importance of implementing the correct level of track worker protection. The subsequent introduction of new safeworking rules, track access accreditation levels and training further supported this.

Further, the PTA has created the role of Workplace trainer and assessor with the task of ensuring track workers comply with the network rules by way of competency-based assessments. Implementation of a new track access accreditation system, with improved training and job mentoring, has also commenced.  

Safety message

This incident strongly emphasises the need for rail transport operators to provide clear and concise work instructions to employees working within the railway corridor. It also highlights the potential for recreational and other drug use to impair performance and affect workplace safety.

Read the investigation report RO-2015-002

Learn more about Safe work on rail

 
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Last update 10 March 2016