Health and safety at work is something we should all value and which should come as standard, but the railway construction industry has been in the spotlight recently for the wrong reasons regarding safety.

In April of this year, 51-year-old Aden Ashurst was struck and fatally injured when working on a portion of the West Coast Main Line track in Northamptonshire. Similarly, last year, two railway workers were killed in South Wales. These incidents all highlight the danger of working in railway construction and why safety equipment is always important. 

What are the risks for railway workers?

When working in railway construction, there are a number of hazards to be considered and taken into account when planning work, including:

  • Risk of electrocution – With high voltage electricity and dedicated electric generators nearby on some portions of the track, there is a very high risk of electrocution.
  • Plant vehicles – From forklifts to large, earthmoving equipment, the risk of being hit by a vehicle on a construction site is very real.
  • Fatigue – Whether it’s the night shift, long hours or just a lack of sleep, fatigue on a construction site often results in accidents.
  • Human error – We’re all human and mistakes can happen, but when they cost lives and are preventable, it’s time to look at equipment and best practices.
  • Moving trains – Arguably the biggest risk is being hit by a train while working on the track, something which should never happen with the right equipment in place.
Railway safety sign

Railway construction safety equipment

There are several pieces of railway safety equipment which can help to save lives and prevent accidents for construction and maintenance crews, including:

  • Railway safety barrier fencing – Crucial to ensuring that no worker accidentally strays into the path of an oncoming train or trips over into a dangerous area of the track, railway safety barrier fencing is a simple piece of equipment which can save lives. Connected to create whatever length fence you need, the fencing is positioned roughly 4ft from the tracks, allowing workers to carry out tasks knowing that any passing train won’t hit them. Vortok safety barrier fencing is a hugely popular choice and is easy to install. Magnetic safety fencing is also available, with faster installation and transfer potential.
  • Rail safety barrier gates – At times when access is required beyond the barrier fencing system, a gate can be inserted for safe access. This should remain closed at all times and contains a locking pin for easy operation.
  • Linklite Brackets – In combination with any safety barrier, Linklite brackets can be added to allow for safe working at night and in darker winter months. The illumination offered through this lighting system helps to keep things on the site visible but also makes it clear where the safe working zone is and where the tracks are.
  • PPE – Personal protective equipment, otherwise known as PPE, can help to keep construction workers safe on any site, including by railway tracks. We’ll touch on this important equipment more in an upcoming article, but here are the key components:
    • Head protection
    • Safety goggles
    • Face masks
    • Gloves
    • Steel toe cap boots
    • Earplugs and earmuffs
    • High-visibility workwear

At Triptex, we believe everyone should be kept safe while working in railway construction and maintenance, that’s why we offer the high-quality Vortok safety barrier fencing system and a variety of site lighting, including Linklite brackets. To learn more about the safety equipment we have for hire, call us today or use our quick quote form and we’ll be happy to assist you in keeping your site safe.