Slips, trips and falls contributed to a worse track worker safety record last year, despite rail accidents causing no passenger deaths, new figures show.
The statistics from the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) show that 2012/13 was the sixth year running when there were no fatalities caused by UK rail accidents.
But they also reveal that there was an 8% decrease in track worker safety with poor weather contributing to a 34% rise in the risk of structural failures causing a passenger train accident since December 2011.
UK’s railways ‘ among Europe’s safest’
Ian Prosser, the ORR’s railway safety director said: “Latest safety statistics show Britain’s rail industry ranks among the safest in Europe and best at managing passenger and level crossing rail safety.”
But he stressed that there was “no room” for complacency with analysis showing there was “considerable room for improvement” in areas such as planned track maintenance, the safety of track workers and the management of civil structures.
Mr Prosser added: “It is now essential the rail industry works as one to deliver an even safer railway. To maintain improvements the regulator has recently approved increased funding for the next five years to improve safety-critical areas of Britain’s railways, with additional money to improve the condition of structures such as bridges or tunnels, as well as to upgrade and close level crossings.”
Report ‘drips’ complacency
But Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said the increase in track worker accidents “should shoot a lightning bolt through the complacency of the ORR which drips from this report”.
He claimed the ORR is demanding cuts that are leading to “the casualisation” of safety-critical track work.
“While our members are getting injured out on the railways at increasing frequency RMT’s fight for a safe working environment goes on,” he added.