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Dan_Brown 4th Jul 2019 17:42

Ear defenders. May save your hearing but not your life?
 
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/943398...stern-railway/


'ALWAYS HAPPY'

Tributes to rail workers, 58 and 64, killed by train they couldn’t hear after wearing ear defenders

  • Molly Rose Pike
  • 4 Jul 2019, 9:47
  • Updated: 4 Jul 2019, 12:49
TRIBUTES have been paid to the two railway workers who died together when they were hit by a train yesterday morning.

Gareth Delbridge, 64, from Kenfig Hill, South Wales, and his co-worker, Michael ‘Spike’ Lewis, 58, of North Cornelly, were wearing ear defenders and didn't hear the train coming before it struck them near Port Talbot.

Mr Delbridge was described as a "true gentleman" by John Hyde, club director of Kenfig Hill RFC, of which the victim was a huge fan.

Writing on the club's Facebook page, Mr Hyde described Gareth as a much loved family and popular at the club.

He said: "Gareth was always happy and joyful.

"He loved his darts and had been involved with the club for 30 years as a member of the darts' team."

The club announced news of his death on Facebook last night.

'LOVED BY EVERYONE'

The post read: "He will be surely missed by all those who had the privilege of knowing Gareth. He was, without doubt one of the nicest persons you would ever want to meet, a true gentleman and an all round great guy. RIP Gareth we are all going to miss your happy charm."

Michael's family said he was "loved by everyone" in an emotional tribute this morning.

They said: "He was known by everyone, and loved by everyone.

"We would like to thank everyone so much for their support during this difficult time and ask that we are now given the space we need to grieve."

The two men were hit by the train just before 10am yesterday morning between Port Talbot Parkway and Bridgend railway stations.

'TRUE GENTLEMAN'

Paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service rushed to the scene, tragically confirming two people had died.

Network Rail was facing demands for answers last night as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced an investigation into the deaths near Port Talbot, South Wales.

Superintendent Andy Morgan from British Transport Police, said: “Following a number of urgent enquiries into this tragic incident, it has been established that the three people were railway workers who were working on the lines at the time.

“The initial stages of the investigation suggest that the two men who died had been wearing ear defenders at the time, tragically, could not hear the a passenger train approaching.

TRAGEDY

“We have a number of officers who remain in the area and we are continuing to work alongside the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to understand the full circumstances of what happened in the moments before this incredibly sad, fatal collision."

A passenger on board the train, which had left Swansea at 9.29am, said the train came to an abrupt stop moments after leaving Port Talbot Parkway.

He said there was a lot of shock amongst passengers as the Great Western service train came to a standstill.

He said: "We weren’t sure what was happening, but a train manager came through the train and said the railway workers had been hit by the train. We are still on the train and have been told that we are understandably going to be here for some time.

er340790 4th Jul 2019 18:04

Hard hats sadly have a similar limitation - I have personally lost count of the number of times I have hit my noggin against objects that were just out of sight above their front 'safety' rim.

There's a reason most miners wear their hard hats back-to-front.

Mr Optimistic 4th Jul 2019 18:05

Network Rail will be mortified. They take track safety very seriously. Wonder what happened to the banksman.

ATNotts 4th Jul 2019 18:13

Is this the first case of PPE equipment contributing to a death at work?

Pontius Navigator 4th Jul 2019 18:34

Back in 1963 I was told not to wear hearing protect for just that reason. By 1990 their use was mandatory.

I was not entitled to a hard hat and not permitted to wear a soft one though I gave that rule a stuff ignoring. Lost count the number of times bashed my head but no damage to me or the equipment I hit.

Years later in Gibraltar in the caves I did wear a hard hat. The impact was quite severe especially in my neck in no due part to the extra height

charliegolf 4th Jul 2019 18:39

I asked this on another site... do the workers not carry explosive bangers placed on the line a safe way up the track, that go off with a hellufa bang when the train goes over it? Was this ever a thing, or did I make it up?

CG

radarman 4th Jul 2019 18:40

My initial thought was 'Elfin Safety bites its own backside'. But I doubt very much whether Network Rail's safety case relies solely (if at all) on track workers being able to hear an approaching train. There has to be more in this.

Blues&twos 4th Jul 2019 18:41

The root cause will not be related to the wearing of appropriate PPE. If ear defenders were required, it will be because noisy machinery was in use at the work site. The machinery will have also drowned out the sound of approaching trains, which are practically silent until close by in most circumstances.
The root cause will be related to the failure of the system being used to plan/supervise the work and/or warn the team of the approach of a train in plenty of time to allow them to return to their "place of safety".
Hearing the approach of a train is definitely not a measure relied upon as a safety system on the railway.
There was a multiple fatality accident at Polmont in 1983 in which several track workers were hit by a high speed train. Their safe system of work rightly required the use of ear defenders, but pretty much everything else was woefully deficient.
They even had two lookouts, one at a distance and one at the site to switch off the power tools and ensure they got clear.
The RAIB report will make interesting, if sobering reading.

mickjoebill 4th Jul 2019 18:45


Originally Posted by charliegolf (Post 10509691)
I asked this on another site... do the workers not carry explosive bangers placed on the line a safe way up the track, that go off with a hellufa bang when the train goes over it? Was this ever a thing, or did I make it up?

CG

They were in use at one time.. but I guess not much use if wearing ear defenders.

Blues&twos 4th Jul 2019 18:46

Charliegolf - detonators are strapped to the railhead and explode with a very loud bang when a train goes over them. This is to alert the driver to stop, not to warn the trackworkers. These clearly can't be used on a track still fully open to traffic, except in an emergency.

There are a number of modern electronic/radio systems which can be used now to alert trackworkers, but I assume there are criteria for using each type. Sadly, even on quiet, relatively low speed branch lines being hit by a train means time off at the undertaker.

Argonautical 4th Jul 2019 18:50

Talking to an old steam train driver today, he reckons it happened because of staff cutbacks. There should have been a guy with a flag some distance away and another, also with a flag, closer to the workers.

Dan_Brown 4th Jul 2019 19:11

It seems it's business as usual at N.R.

Blues&twos 4th Jul 2019 19:21

Flags rely on one guy never taking his eyes off the bloke with the flag. This was one of the problems at Polmont. The system is not fail safe.

uffington sb 4th Jul 2019 19:23

If using noisy machinery, then a ‘touch’ look out is used. They should have a good sighting of approaching trains or be in visual sighting of a distant lookout. When a train appears, the touch lookout then gives the workers a touch, and then they all move to a position of safety.

Ancient Mariner 4th Jul 2019 19:26

The owners of my first ship, back in '69, were to cheap to provide any sort of protective gear or clothing.
Engine rooms are noisy places so we used asbestos yarn stuffed into the ears to dampen it somewhat.
I fully expect to die from ear cancer. :hmm:
Per

er340790 4th Jul 2019 20:20


I fully expect to die from ear cancer.
Only if you breathe through your ears!!! ;)

NWSRG 4th Jul 2019 20:22


Originally Posted by Blues&twos (Post 10509695)
The root cause will not be related to the wearing of appropriate PPE. If ear defenders were required, it will be because noisy machinery was in use at the work site. The machinery will have also drowned out the sound of approaching trains, which are practically silent until close by in most circumstances.
The root cause will be related to the failure of the system being used to plan/supervise the work and/or warn the team of the approach of a train in plenty of time to allow them to return to their "place of safety".

Correct...this will be down to a failure of the Safe System of Work. The Ear Defenders might have been the last hole in the Swiss Cheese, but the process has to have been flawed somewhere, or was not being adhered to.

750XL 4th Jul 2019 20:42

Saw some stats today stating you'd have barely 3-4 seconds to 'hear' an approaching train travelling at 125mph, assuming ambient conditions etc.

Blues&twos 4th Jul 2019 20:53

750XL, yes, and that would be assuming wind neglible, no background noise.
Recent near-misses involving track workers, investigated by the RAIB show that in those cases it was usually only a couple of seconds between the workers getting clear and the train passing, and those were with trains travelling at less than 125mph, and with the horns having been sounded.
Some wobbly legs afterwards

Excerpt from latest near miss:


At around 10:52 hrs on 20 July 2018, a track worker, who was acting as a site lookout for another track worker who was carrying out an inspection, narrowly avoided being struck by a train near Peterborough station. The train involved had just passed through the station and was travelling at 102 mph (164 km/h) when its driver saw the lookout standing on the same line ahead. The driver immediately sounded the train’s warning horn and applied the brakes. The lookout responded to the train’s horn and moved out of its path about 2.5 seconds before the train reached him.

The investigation found four causal factors. The site lookout was distracted and not adequately observing his distant lookout or looking for approaching trains. He had also chosen to stand on an open line when it was not necessary to do so. The track worker carrying out the inspection, who was also the Controller of Site Safety and responsible for the safety of all the staff involved in the work, was not monitoring the unsafe actions of the lookout at the time of the incident. Lastly, the distant lookout had left his position before the train arrived because he thought he had been stood down. A distant lookout who was visible to the site lookout was from a different team and was looking out for trains coming in the opposite direction.

The investigation also found that the way in which the work was planned defaulted to using the least preferred safe system of work in the hierarchy within Network Rail’s company standard for managing the safety of people at work on or near the line. Further, the current rules for communication when lookouts are used are impractical, leading to a disregard for the rules and the use of unofficial and uncontrolled practices. These two factors were the underlying causes of the incident.
​​​​

Icare9 4th Jul 2019 21:06

For them to be wearing ear defenders suggests they were operating noisy equipment, so the Safe Working system must have failed.
How do you warn men with ear defenders that a train is approaching? You'd need to touch them or have some form of ear piece to cut through the ear protection....
They must have been either working on the wrong piece of track, or the train was on the wrong line.
Surely the most effective way to protect them would be to have a flagman waving the train to stop, thus giving a touch man time to alert the workers and remove what equipment they were using so the train could pass.
A terrible accident for all concerned, how could it go so tragically wrong?


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