The rail industry in the UK has experienced a number of runaway events over the last twenty years where unexpected and uncontrolled movements of rail vehicles, plant or machines have approached workers whilst on track. The impact of these events has resulted in near misses ranging from the runaway Iron Men at Raven Crossing in 2017, to the runaway RRV trailer at Tebay in 2004 which resulted in the tragic death of four colleagues.
Network Rail and the Trade Unions agreed to work together to improve the
arrangements for dealing with runaway risk. This work included a review of the effectiveness of the current arrangements in NR/L2/OHS/019 section 9.2, and an agreement to introduce a formal hierarchy of controls that would eliminate or reduce the risks associated with runaways in possessions. This concluded with the NR/L2/OHS/019/Module 05 – Management of Runaway Risk standard being introduced.
Significant work has also been undertaken to reduce the risk of runaways taking place; the direct rail wheel braking fitted to high ride RRV’s being one specific example. However, given that these events continue to occur indicates that our controls need continued focus and improvements.
A risk-based approach needs to be considered as part of every work planning activity and the principals of prevention given in Module 05 must be followed. Where it cannot be demonstrated that current controls remove the risk of a runaway approaching a site of work a warning method must be deployed.