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.
What can you do?
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 to ensure adequate worksite protection is implemented. 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.
Similarly, before worksite protection is removed, it is essential that the Protection Officer and the Network Control Officer ensure all plant and workers have ceased operating and are positioned clear of the track.
The following ATSB investigations into accidents involving work on railway tracks show the importance of good work practices, coordination and communication.
- Collision between track worker and passenger train at Petrie, Qld on 29 May 2017
- Track Worker Fatality at Clyde, NSW, on 18 June 2016
- Track worker struck by train near Laverton station, Victoria on 2 October 2015
- Collision between track worker and passenger train at Guildford, Western Australia on 10 February 2015
- Safeworking Breaches at Blackheath on 13 June 2013, Newcastle on 13 July 2013 and Wollstonecraft 17 July 2013
The ATSB has also produced a safety issue investigation into safe work on track.
Safe work on track across Australia: Analysis of incident data, 2009 - 2014 reviews available data from across Australia of incidents and accidents relating to work on track. It is designed to provide industry with insights into the protection arrangements that are failing, and the reasons why, across many occurrences so that safety action can be designed to reduce future safe work on track occurrences.