Risk And Safety In Rail: Physical Health Essay


Write about the Risk and Safety in Rail for Physical Health.



Risk can be described as the uncertainty of divergence from the anticipated outcomes. It is related with potential loss or gain of different values like physical health, social or financial status, emotional health or others. This uncertainty cannot be predicted or controlled. The actions taken based on this uncertainty are risks (Mara, Massimo & Giuliano, 2014). Safety is the condition which defines the protection from harmful events. It is also related with the uncertain outcomes of anything. Risk can be brought down to an acceptable level by controlling the factors of known dangers.

Risk and safety, both the words are very much connected to each other. Freedom from risk is achieved by safety. Risk consideration is must if one wants to achieve safety. The external and internal vulnerabilities caused by risk can be diminished by safety practices (M?ller, 2012). Every working system now-a-days have the safety and security protocols in order to avoid every kind of risks. The topic discussed here is the safety and risk management in train systems (Glendon, Clarke & McKenna, 2016).

The purpose of this study is to investigate a train accident and find evidences related to safety breaches and risks. An assessment is made on safety and risk management to help this report.

Safety and Risk Management:

Both the terms are correlated with each other. Assessment of risk of any process generates the measurement of uncertainty where deviations can occur. The area of analysis of risk is very large as each and every factor associated with life can be subjected to risk assessment (Hale & Borys, 2013). Management of the overall system that counters the risk factors by defining policies and objectives that ultimately results in safety and security is called safety management (Leveson, 2015). Safety management is associated with a vast range of initiatives, objectives, responsibilities, procedures and resources that help in maintaining the values of a system. Safety policies can be determined on the aspects of human life, technology, organizational matters, community, environment and other major aspects (Jafarian & Rezvani, 2012). Advantages of risk management incorporates the economic efficiency, reduce the amount of accidents and incidents, more liable decision making process with decision in each phase and some others (Glendon, Clarke & McKenna, 2016).

Investigation of Events:

Certain events are caused due to high risk factors and safety breaches. To find out the cause an event needs to be investigated properly. This investigation is a fact analysis process based on the collectible data, which develops a report with certain recommendation. This identifies the errors in the system and recommends areas for improvement (McNeil, Frey & Embrechts, 2015). An accident is very integrated event with risk and safety management. Applying several methods and techniques an accident can be investigated to find out the safety breaches those have caused it.

Accident Analysis Models:

Accident is mainly caused by the combination of human and technical failures (M?ller, 2012). To draw out the failures and predict safety measures to eliminate those, the analysis can be done using different models like ‘Sequential accident models’, ‘epidemiological accident models’ and ‘systematic accident models’.

Risk and Safety Management in Rail System:

Analysis of rail management is a combine application of screening and assessing tools. The methods of analysis should be documented properly. Prediction of accidents is a result of data and fatality rate which is calculated using deaths per annum. Fatality rate is a measure for the death of people per 100 million submission hour (Leveson, 2015). There are two scales of risks those are upper bound and lower bound. Upper bound level is the maximum limit of risk toleration. According to Australian standards for rail management 1 rail personnel in 1,000 and 1 passenger in 10,000 is the upper bound for deaths per annum.

Main causes behind railroad accidents are technological failures, derailments, human errors, track problems, obstructed railroads for immobile cars, diverted pedestrians and suicides (Liu et al., 2015). Technological failures are associated with mechanical collapses like low quality design and maintenance, unchecked damages and fire breakouts and engineering faults like bridge, tunnel and track faults (Jafarian & Rezvani, 2012). Another major error is human error. This can be classified into drivers, signalmen and pedestrians’ errors. Passing signals with excessive speed, irregular checking of brakes and safety systems, not stopping at required location and fumbling of the engine are the errors performed by a driver (Hammerl & Vanderhaegen, 2012). Signalmen’s error is generally mishandling the signalling operations and misuse of equipments. The main error of pedestrian is the unawareness of surroundings. Diverted movement of pedestrians and other vehicle not only cause delay in train schedule but cause accidents. Sometimes obstruction is caused by nature. For example- avalanches, landslides and floods sometimes block the track, foggy weather causes problems to follow the signals or the track.

There are different safety protocols which can minimize the risks (Hale & Borys, 2013). Train employees are the functional body of a rail system. Their duty hours should contain a minimum gap of 10 hours to ensure their effectiveness. Use of electronic devices affects the concentration of an employee and it is a major reason for accidents. Generally employees like locomotive engineers and others are restricted from using electronic devices while running the train, assisting in movement operation and switching operation or rolling equipments (Mara, Massimo & Giuliano, 2014). Railway track maintenance should be performed repetitively within short intervals as railway tracks are affected by seasonal weather change. Different seasonal plans should be incorporated to the maintenance like cleaning of snow and debris during winter and cleaning glasses during spring. Railcars should be examined properly and daily. Hand brakes and air brakes should be checked before any journey (Hammerl & Vanderhaegen, 2012). Any problems with hand wheel, chain or lever should be solved right away. Application of the brakes should be done accurately. The doors should be checked for smooth opening and closing purposes. Wheel contamination and other leaks in the system should be reported immediately. Employees should be trained appropriately in application of signals and flags, in using of different equipments and in controlling the train properly (Raspotnig & Opdahl, 2013).

Another safety measure is railway clearance, which ensures the safety of people and equipment from rail. Vertical clearance in calculated from the top of the rail, lateral clearance is calculated from the middle of the track and restricted clearance is estimated from a given limit.

Rail Accident in Granville:

An example of a terrible rail accident is the one occurred at Granville, Australia. On 18th January, 1877 a well-crowded, passenger train had derailed resulting in death of 83 civilians and injury of approximately 213 others ("Granville: The rail disaster that changed Australia - BBC News", 2017). The train derailed at the curve at Granville, moving at a speed of 80 km/hr and collided with the supports of Bold Street bridge situated just above the track.

The derailed engine and first two carriages broke free and eight passengers were killed during the collision of the first carriage with the bridge. The remaining carriages stopped after the first collision of the train with the support of the bridge, however the supportive mast fell down within a few moments on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th carriage instantly killing a lot of people. Leaking of gas was creating more problems for the passengers inside and causing a delay in rescue process restricting the use of power tools.

Reasons of Granville Accident:

Granville rail accident is one of the worst rail disasters in history of Australia. The accident had showed a vast amount of deficiency in risk and safety management of New South Wales railway maintenance division. An investigation had been launched by the chief judge of NSW District Court in February, which had revealed the causes behind this accident. The main reason for this derailment was the poor and undesirable condition of the railway track (Pritchard & PMP, 2014). The alignment of the track was not accurate and the width the track was more than a gauge. This had caused the front left wheel of the locomotive to drop inside the track. It was an example of poor inspection procedure and lack of track maintenance. The maximum speed limit had not been showed properly. There was no prevention for leaking of gas, which had caused severe damages. The carriages were not fit for emergency operations. Another cause was the bridge structure, as it was on metre lower than the connecting road and to adjust the level concrete had been used on the top of the bridge. Thus excessive weight of the bridge had crushed the train instantly ("Granville: The rail disaster that changed Australia - BBC News", 2017). The turnover of the accident into a big disaster had proved the absence of disaster management system. Absence of psychological support to the emergency workers resulted in depression and anxiety within the emergency work employees (Liu et al., 2015).

Lot of lessons had been learned by the government form this accident. A big raise in the rail budget was the primary effect. The defects in the track were repaired immediately (Raspotnig & Opdahl, 2013). Inspection procedures had been remodelled and number of staffs for track inspection had been increased. Recommendations for a disaster management plan had been approved and applied methodically. The government planned to apologise to the families of the victims.


Therefore, from the above discussion, it is deduced that risk and safety are two major ideas linked with social life. These ideas can be effectively developed from the viewpoints of a student. Risk explains the uncertainties of different aspects and safety shows methods to eliminate them. Accidents are general results of high level risks. During the hectic schedule of daily life, many uncertain factors arise uncontrollably. It is very important to prepare safety measures to diminish the effects. Railroad accidents are often occurred due to negligence or unchecked faults, which results in death of people. The primary focus of any system as big as rail should be to develop safety policies, train the employees accordingly and make people aware.


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