Track workers are engaged in safety critical tasks on a daily basis. Protecting these workers is a priority for the rail industry. We had the chance to speak with Matthew Manchester, Manager of Safety Performance at Transport for NSW, about the importance of track worker safety and what will be discussed at the upcoming National Track Worker Safety Forum, which will take place on Tuesday 25th March at Four Points by Sheraton in Sydney.
Why is track worker safety a priority for industry?
Matthew Manchester: Track workers face some of the toughest working environments in transport and protecting our people is a high priority in rail. Track workers are out on the network in all weather, remote locations and interact with moving rail traffic in order to keep our network safe and efficient.
What were some of the outcomes of the first ever National Track Worker Safety Forum and how will the March forum build on these?
Matthew Manchester: The first ever National Track Worker Safety Forum was held in Sydney last November and representatives from across Australia came together with the specific aim to promote and share information, ideas and initiatives about how best to protect people when working trackside in the railway networks. The forum identified 17 projects and a number of outcomes. The top three issues identified by the stakeholders were:
1. Training and competence management
2. Use of technology
3. Possession management
The March forum continues this collaborative initiative of developing industry-led action plans for the safety of workers on track.
Who will be attending the forum?
Matthew Manchester: The forum will bring together infrastructure managers, operators, maintainers and safety managers to share ideas and learnings about current projects and initiatives.
How is this forum different from other industry meetings?
Matthew Manchester: Facilitated by Carolyn Walsh, former CEO of the NSW Independent Transport Regulator and currently a Commissioner for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the forum has been designed so that participants will get to work with their industry peers and colleagues in identifying issues and developing action plans for the safety of workers on track. It will include speakers, presentations and workshop activities to open discussion to the wider industry.
What happens next?
Matthew Manchester: The contributions of the wider industry will feed into the core group of forum members so that all stakeholders get a chance to have their say about what projects and initiatives should be taken forward.
The National Track Worker Safety Forum encourages people in the wider industry to get involved, to let us know your thoughts on the forum objectives, and to contribute your own ideas about how to improve track worker safety.