The ATSB has investigated several accidents that have occurred when maintenance work was being carried out on or near railway tracks. Conducting work on or near a railway track can be dangerous if safeworking rules and procedures have not been correctly implemented to protect the worksite. Trains cannot stop quickly and any breakdown in the communication or management of a worksite can leave workers extremely vulnerable to dangerous situations.
Operational safe working on track requires a high level of preparation and organisation. Whenever there is work taking place on or near a track, coordination and communication are essential. Before authority is granted to occupy or work near a track, it is essential that all information is clearly communicated and verified between the Protection Officer and the Network Control Officer.
An adequate briefing about the work site and effective communications equipment must be made available to the track workers. For track workers, it is vital to ensure that all levels of worksite protection have been fully implemented before commencing work on or near the track.
The following ATSB investigations into accidents involving work on railway tracks, shows the importance of good work practices, coordination and communication: