Rail Industry Focus

22.05.18

How two-way radio can boost worker safety

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

James Miller, managing director of Brentwood Communications explains why two-way radio technology remains the first-choice workplace tool across all industries, especially in one as high-risk as rail.

By its very nature, the rail industry is one of the most high-risk sectors of the economy when it comes to workplace safety. Along with the rest of the transport industry, it is labelled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as having a “statistically significant” above-average accident rate compared to most sectors.

Not that this is particularly surprising in an industry that combines the operation of high-speed vehicles with elements of engineering, maintenance and construction. The rail industry also has to factor in potential threats posed to guards and other staff from members of the public.

None of this is used by the industry to excuse the occurrence of accidents. Awareness of the heightened risks pushes rail companies and everyone connected to the industry to redouble their efforts, with the ultimate goal of achieving zero accidents or injuries across the network.

The HSE is big on health and safety planning, awareness raising, and education. But to actually put a plan into action, day-to-day management of safety and security relies on good communication.

Even in the age of the mobile phone, two-way radio remains the first-choice workplace communication tool across all industries. In sectors like transport, construction, engineering and other heavy industries, it is particularly well trusted in coordinating and managing health and safety because it is so reliable.

A standard two-way radio model is built for simplicity. In an emergency, the last thing you want is to be scrolling through a contacts list before you place a call. With two-way radio, one-touch operation guarantees instant communication when you most need it. And the fact that you broadcast across a whole network is often an advantage when you need to coordinate work and share information across large teams.

Safety features

Another standout feature of many modern two-way radio models is the fact that they come programmed with features designed to assist safety and security protocols. It is now commonplace for two-way radios to have an emergency button, which will issue an alert across the whole network. This is useful, for example, in circumstances where a member of staff might feel threatened but doesn’t want to be seen using their radio.

Another extremely useful feature is Lone Worker. This is a monitoring tool intended to allow colleagues to keep tabs on each other if they are working away from the main group. If a member of a maintenance team is working down a section of track alone, having Lone Worker switched on requires them to check in with colleagues at fixed intervals. If they miss the appointed time, an alarm is raised.

Finally, Man Down is a safety feature designed to offer extra protection for operatives working at height. A motion sensor in the two-way radio handset is calibrated to detect a fall, automatically issuing an alarm. This can save precious time in attending to a colleague following an accident.

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