The rail industry recognises the significance of road driving risk to its workforce and is seeking to improve its controls.

Estimates suggest anything between 25 and 40% of road traffic incidents involve work-related journeys, which would be equivalent to between 475 and 760 work-related driving fatalities a year. Compare that with 173 work-related fatalities in total recorded by HSE in 2010-11 across all work sectors, and which do not include road traffic events.

A dedicated cross-industry steering group has already started to research the broader issue through RSSB, and Operations Focus Group (OFG) has sponsored new research looking in particular at managing occupational road risk associated with road vehicle driver fatigue (project reference T997), which has just been published.

A RSSB survey to better understand road driving risk across a representative sample of employers identified 500 road traffic collisions, 100 injuries and 5 fatalities in one year. These figures, compared to data in the industry’s Safety Management Information System (SMIS) for the same period, showed under-reporting.

There are likely to be at least 75,000 road vehicles linked to the rail industry. This includes use by mobile operations managers, maintenance teams and contractors. Staff may need to travel from job-to-job early in the day or late at night, depending on the task in hand, and to access very particular areas of the infrastructure, depending on engineering schedules and incidents that occur.

The research has led to the development of good practice guides for managers and rail staff to help improve the management of occupational road risk associated with road vehicle driver fatigue.

The new resources build on the recently-issued briefing DVD, RED 35, which featured a dramatisation of a road traffic accident caused by the fatigued rail worker involved.

The DVD programme prompts specific questions for managers to ensure that the potential for road vehicle driver fatigue is incorporated into job design, rostering, work risk assessments, and travel planning for work.

New guidance to help staff and their managers identify the risk from fatigue when driving and how to recognise the warning signs and cope with this issue is now available, as are reminder sheets for staff to keep in their vehicle and an awareness-raising poster to put up in canteens, foyers and mess rooms. These all include references to the issues as well as graphics and imagery used in RED 35 to help people make the connection.

Beyond T997, RSSB has been tasked with developing a dedicated area on the RSSB website for the rail industry to access specific, relevant information on managing road driving risk and help raise awareness. This will aid embedding of work-related driving risk controls into safety management systems, and boost legal safeguards as well as rail staff safety.