Rail Safety Systems BV (RSS) was crowned the winner of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) International Railway Group Award 2016, in recognition of its work to create a new magnetically-attached safety barrier.
The Dutch-based firm says its innovation has “transformed the conventions of workforce protection”, saving time and money on installation compared to standard safety barriers.
Previously, workers had to remove some of the ballast from beneath the rail track to secure a safety barrier in place. RSS’s barrier, however, uses magnets to attach the safety barrier directly to the ‘web’, or side, of the track itself – eliminating the need to disturb the ballast.
RSS say this not only speeds up the process and requires fewer workers to install, it also helps to reduce the chances of track distortion, and of the workforce being exposed to silica dust and other pathogens as a result of disturbing the ballast.
Paul Scapens, managing director of Innovative Railway Systems Ltd – the UK-arm of RSS – said the innovation had already been used successfully by rail workers in the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia.
He added: “The project was to produce a new type of safety barrier that didn’t require the removal of ballast.
“We noted all the disadvantages of existing systems of protecting the workforce in terms of health and safety, and set about defining a solution.
“Our design has transformed the conventions for workforce protection, overcoming all the disadvantages of existing systems and additionally providing extra benefits to save both time and cost, afford superior levels of protection, assist the protection of the physical infrastructure and above all else, protect the health of the workforce from silica dust and pathogens within the ballast.”
RSS was presented with the award during the annual IOSH Rail Industry Conference, held at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, Nottingham, UK, on Wednesday 23 November. Click here to read more about the conference.
Of the winning entry, Keith Morey, Chair of IOSH’s Railway Group, said: “It is simple, more flexible than standard barriers and is lightweight.
“It allows people to work without having to dig the ballast, which means no exposure to silica dust or other health risks. It’s a quick and easy fix and it’s available to every worker out there.”
The awards also saw Network Rail Infrastructure Projects highly commended for its work to tackle worker fatigue.
Of the entry, Keith said: “They were highly commended for their work to introduce a new way of monitoring fatigue through the use of apps and touchscreen technology, along with lowering the average shift from 12 to eight hours, which in itself was quite an achievement. It resulted in a reduction in incidents and accidents on site.”