Health & Wellbeing:
An Update from
the ORR

Wed 21/12/2016 - 10:05

Last month SOCOTEC hosted its annual Railway Environmental Forum and was lucky to have Sharon Mawhood, HM Inspector of Railways, Central Specialist Inspector’s Team, from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), as one of our key speakers. Here, in her guest blog, Sharon gives us an update on the ORR’s occupational health work.

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ORR’s second occupational health programme for 2014-19 aims to drive progress towards consistent legal compliance and excellence in managing health across the rail industry. Why the continued focus on ill health prevention? Health risk is too often the poor relation of health and safety in the rail industry and this must change. ORR wants to see health managed proactively in the same way as safety, to protect the rail workforce but also to deliver efficiency savings. The industry’s own estimate is that one million working days are lost each year to impaired worker health, at a cost of £790 million.  

The ORR’s ‘Better Health is Happening’ report, published in June 2015, showed a significant improvement in the rail industry’s management of worker health over the previous four year period. Better awareness and improved risk management across several areas, including for example stress and trauma, manual handling, silica, and legionella made a difference across the sector, however much more remains to be done to put worker health management on a par with rail safety management. Incomplete and inconsistent collection and use of health data remained a key weakness, as without the right information, it is hard to measure impact and identify priorities for further action.

The report identifies priorities for rail companies and their contractors up to 2019:

  • Act on key health risks such as hand arm vibration, musculoskeletal risks, mental health, respiratory disease including exposure to asbestos, silica, and diesel fumes
  • Comply with the law through effective monitoring
  • Build the competence of managers and supervisors on health risk management
  • Make more use of RM3 (ORR’s risk management maturity model) for health
  • Make better use of meaningful health data to focus on the right priorities
  • Close the gap between public reporting on health compared with safety
  • Report new and worsening diagnoses of occupational disease, in particular hand arm vibration syndrome by rail contractors

A more detailed overview of the report can be seen in the ORR’s handy infographic, please click below to view.

 View infographic

To help the industry deliver on these priorities by 2019, ORR provides guidance, regular updates, and shares good practice examples from across the industry including:

  • Quarterly updates and e-bulletins for the rail industry on ORR’s health programme which includes key messages for rail duty holders on current health management topics. You can subscribe to receive direct email notifications from ORR when new updates are published by clicking here
  • ORR’s Risk Management Maturity Model (RM3): the RMmodel, already widely used for safety, can also be used to measure the maturity of a company’s management of occupational health. ORR has produced guidance on how it can be used to ensure that health risks are effectively addressed and managed
  • A worked example of stress management which can be viewed here
  • Various good practice case studies are available on the ORR website, including an overview of how First ScotRail managed the risk of legionella and Arriva Trains Wales’ new approach to addressing stress disorders caused by traumatic incidents
  • To ensure managers have the right level of knowledge and skills in managing occupational health, ORR has produced guidance on rail manager competence. In addition to setting out key areas of knowledge, the guidance provides advice on how to achieve good practice
  • RSSB has worked with the industry to develop an ambitious Railway Health and Wellbeing Roadmap which sets out key work streams and timescales to deliver effective and efficient health and wellbeing management

For more information on the ORR or its occupational health programme, please click here. To find out more about SOCOTEC’s Railway Environmental Forum, follow this link.

Does your rail organisation require support with occupational hygiene? Contact us

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