Rail Worker Injuries Increase Despite Safety Reforms

According to statistics, more workers have been harmed working on the UK rail network between April 2021 and March 2022 in comparison to the previous year, despite the Government regulator stating that safety procedures have been improved recently.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said in July that the likelihood of an accident on UK railways was at an “all-time low” because of the Network Rail safety reforms. However, recent statistics don’t appear to support this claim with the number of rail workers being harmed increasing over the course of 12 months.

The most recent ORR dataset for workforce harm, analysed and reported by New Civil Engineer (NCE), showed an increase in the number of injuries to all categories of the workforce on the mainline railway. This includes train drivers, infrastructure workers, unclassified employees, and customer-facing staff.

Statistics show:

  • Injuries to staff in all categories who work on the mainline increased by 20% from 3,981 to 4,784;
  • Shock and trauma injuries to the mainline employees increased by 30% from 535 to 742; and
  • Severe injuries causing more than a week’s absence have increased by 10% from 311 to 344.

Also, infrastructure workers on the London Underground and non-mainline railways from April 2022 to March 2022 were injured 20% more than in the previous 12-month period.

An ORR spokesperson said:

“There has been good progress on improving safe working practices on the railway in recent years, particularly regarding trackside safety which has seen the moving annual average track worker related near-misses fall by 70% since 2019. However, there is no room for complacency, and we continue to monitor and work with industry to improve workforce safety.”

Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) Annual Health and Safety Report which covers the time between April 2021 to May 2022, claims:

“overall, there was a similar number of specified injuries in 2021/22 compared to the level seen in 2020/21, to the workforce on or around the running line. Track workers account for the majority of the harm to workers on or near the running line.”

The Report adds:

“However, the reduction in contact with object and awkward body movement specified injuries was balance by an increase in specified injuries from slips, trip and falls, which rose for the second year in a row. Slips, trips and falls remain the most common cause of specified injury for staff members on or about the line.”

Darryl Hopper, RSSB principal strategy implementation planner manager said that improving safety for the workforce is the highest priority for RSSB and the rail sector.

Railway worker accident claims

As with all industries in the UK, railway employers have a legal responsibility to ensure their employees are safe at work. This can include ensuring workers are trained to a specific standard, providing safety equipment, and maintaining safe working conditions for all staff.

This includes ensuring:

  • Workers are provided with protective equipment and clothing for their role
  • Machinery and equipment are working adequately and to a safe standard
  • Rail vehicles and carriages, tracks, overhead lines, tunnels, and bridges are maintained
  • Health and safety protocols are in place, are sufficient, and followed by workers and contractors
  • Employees are provided with the required training, where needed
  • All work tasks are risk assessed and planned

Railway employers have a duty of care to protect workers and contractors whilst they are working for them. If this duty of care is breached and the worker is injured as a result, they could be held accountable and the worker may be entitled to bring a compensation claim.

How can we help?Rail Worker Injuries

Lisa Preece is a Partner in our expert Personal Injury team, which has been ranked in tier one by the independently researched publication, The Legal 500.

At Nelsons, we deal with many workplace compensation claims involving all sorts of personal injuries. Accidents can range from minor trips and falls, causing injuries like sprains to life-changing injuries, such as multiple fractures, head and back injuries.

For more information on workplace accident compensation claims, please contact Lisa or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.


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