Working on the railway is a dangerous job. With most trains operating at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, installing and maintaining the track and infrastructure required to keep those trains moving is a feat in itself. Without the proper controls and railway safety training in place, it’s easy to walk on the wrong track or have a piece of heavy machinery backfire. It doesn’t matter if you’re a track laborer, an excavator operator or a thermite welder – every railway employee faces these challenging conditions at work every single day.
With 48,000 kilometers of track, Transport Canada is primarily responsible for designating and enforcing rail safety rules, regulations, and standards through the Canadian Railway Safety Act. These rules are designed to make grade crossings safer, help identify and address safety risks, and confirm that railway companies meet basic safety standards. For Remcan, and all other federal and local railway companies authorized to operate in Canada, we are responsible for the safety of our rail line infrastructure, railway equipment, and overall operations. After working with several clients in different environments, we have put together some tips on how to best prepare your railway crew for all scenarios.
Here are 5 ways to keep your railway crew safe:
- Offer Role-Specific Railway Safety Training
When an employee hits the property, no matter what their role is, they need a basic working knowledge of how to stay safe and how to handle tools. We pride ourselves on safety education and invest a lot of money into training our new hires from the very beginning. Once they have that basic understanding of different jobsites and conditions, through a combination of classroom and on-the-job training, we offer separate role-specific programs to further prepare our employees for their designated job. For example, a boom truck operator who is responsible for handling a 10-ton truck that runs on track and picks up rail has a much more rigid training program with weekly progress reports and milestones to accomplish than a basic track labourer would have.
- Enforce a Probation Period – “Crawl, Walk, Run”
Every new hire for REMCAN has to go through 3 full days of training and a 3 month probation period. The initial training includes about 20% of classroom-based learning and theory, while the other 80% is in-field training and designed to address the different scenarios they will be faced with. During this hands-on training, we even build and take down a piece of track to get them familiar with the process. Throughout the first 3 months, supervisors monitor the new hires’ progress carefully and decide if they are a good fit for the crew.
- Implement a Mentorship Program
The railway is a unique environment where it can be tough to address all the different scenarios employees will be faced with. Once our new hires have completed their initial training program, they are paired with senior railroaders for something that can be often overlooked: coaching and mentorship. We are lucky to have experienced foremen and supervisors with over 30 years’ experience working in the railway industry. They have an enormous amount of expertise in the field and are able to transfer that knowledge to the newer employees on the job.
- Complete Regular Compliance Audits
A compliance audit is a great opportunity to learn and educate your employees on better safety practices. We take a team out to one of our job sites across Canada and perform a full compliance audit to assess that all standards are being met. Implementing regular audits are a proactive way to identify good habits as well as any failures or at-risk employees. By educating your team on failures you have found in other job sites, we have been able to steadily reduce injuries and incidences.
- Communicate Railway Safety Trends Company-Wide
As contractors for the railway, we work together with our clients and foremen to enforce ongoing inspections, job site testing and maintenance programs that meet regulatory requirements, as well as any particular operating and environmental conditions. We pass along that knowledge to all of our staff in the form of a weekly safety-focused newsletter which can include anything from environmental changes to something found in an audit to watch out for. In order to maintain a safe environment, you need to create awareness and discuss the issues out there.
REMCAN is committed to providing a safe, healthy and secure workplace for its employees. We never put speed or cost over safety, and always go above and beyond the standard when it comes to ensuring our job sites remain safe and protected. For more information on our projects, talk to one of our railway safety experts today.