By Patrick Hurst
Agricultural safety at rail-level crossings is to be reviewed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), after an increase in near-miss incidents.
Safety at rail level crossings is to be the subject of a practical event hosted by the IOSH later this month, where agricultural workers will be told how to avoid a potentially catastrophic incident.
The event, due to be held near Rugeley, Staffordshire, will see industry experts from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) provide advice on how to manage different risks, such as transport safety and electrical awareness.
It comes in the wake of the 2015-16 Health and Safety ORR report, which stated more than half of all near-misses between trains and vehicles at level crossings occurred at user-worked crossings, where the user had to open the gate in order to cross the rail track.
Despite last year recording the lowest number of deaths at level crossings since 1996-97, there was a seven per cent increase in near misses.
Keith Morey, chairman of the IOSH Railway Group, said: "People do not necessarily understand how dangerous a user-worked crossing can be. Given that the Rail Safety and Standards Board have identified level-crossings as one of its 12 strategic priority areas, it seems the logical step for us to help people understand the risks."
Alan Plom, vice-chairman of the IOSH Rural Industries Group, was concerned over the ’lack of awareness’ of simple precautions that must be followed at user-worked crossings.
“There have been a number of recent events which have highlighted the dangers of small farm crossings and user-worked crossings," he said.
"Not only are trains faster nowadays, modern farm machinery is also a lot bigger and quieter, which can increase the risk of incidents occurring.”