...By Joseph Benjamin for TDPel Media.
A report on Monday revealed that a track worker on the Metropolitan line of the Tube was hit during rush hour, resulting in head and body injuries.
The incident occurred near Chalfont and Latimer station around 9.30 am on April 15 last year.
The independent Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) conducted a probe, which criticized the London Underground for lacking an effective management system to ensure track worker safety.
Insufficient Safety Measures and Lack of Familiarity:
The investigation found that the worker, who was recruited through an agency, was not familiar with the specific location where she was conducting inspections.
Additionally, the safety briefings provided on the day of the accident were deemed inadequate.
These shortcomings contributed to a lack of awareness on the part of the worker.
The Accident: Lack of Awareness and Misjudgment:
During the incident, the worker moved from a place of safety and entered the path of an approaching train.
She did so to obtain a better view of the track ahead just as the train was about to pass her.
Unfortunately, she was walking with her back to the train and failed to realize that trains could approach from either direction on the line she was next to.
Consequently, she was struck by the train traveling at 27 mph.
Consequences and Ongoing Impact:
Although the worker was discharged from the hospital later the same day, she has continued to experience the effects of the accident.
The injuries sustained have had a lasting impact on her well-being.
Critical Assessment of London Underground’s Safety Culture:
Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents, Andrew Hall, emphasized that this accident serves as a significant reminder that more efforts are required to reduce the likelihood of track workers coming into contact with trains.
Hall criticized the London Underground for allowing staff to work on open lines without sufficient awareness of potential train approaches.
Issues of Agency Workers and Power Differential:
Inspectors raised concerns regarding agency workers feeling unable to challenge Underground staff due to a perceived power differential.
This dynamic could hinder effective communication and the implementation of necessary safety measures.
It is crucial to address such power imbalances to ensure a safe working environment for all staff members.
Recommendations and TfL’s Response:
The investigation prompted recommendations for Transport for London (TfL), urging them to minimize the frequency of track inspections during traffic hours.
This measure aims to further reduce the risk of accidents.
The Standard has reached out to TfL for their comments on the matter.
This incident underscores the importance of robust safety protocols and organizational culture in preventing accidents and ensuring the well-being of track workers.
The report highlights the need for effective safety briefings, proper training, and improved communication between agency workers and Underground staff.
Additionally, it emphasizes the significance of providing clear guidelines and designated places of safety that are readily accessible and unobstructed.
By implementing the recommended measures and addressing power differentials, the London Underground can foster a safer working environment for track workers and minimize the occurrence of such accidents in the future.