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Caught between a rail and a hard place: A two-country meta-analysis of factors that impact Track Worker safety in Lookout-related rail incidents
journal contributionposted on 15.10.2019, 00:00 by Anjum NaweedAnjum Naweed, MS Young, J Aitken
The last 15 years has witnessed a surge in rail-related human factors research but little has examined the Track Worker role. Track work often takes place whilst trains are running under the protection of Lookouts who provide warning of approaching trains. Despite—or perhaps because of—these measures, there is a notable prevalence of incidents involving Lookouts, warranting a closer look at the nature of their task and the wider sociotechnical system (STS) to identify what may be learned for railway safety management. A systematic review of incident reports involving Lookouts was undertaken on Australian and UK rail incidents from 2006 to mid-2018 with a qualitative meta-analysis (n = 31) revealing nine factors corresponding with STS dimensions at the organisational, social, task and individual level. Much of the risk lay in the set up and implementation of Lookout working, and in Track Worker group dynamics—factors endemic to working whilst trains are running—rather than specific to the Lookout, with such factors arguably applicable across other Track Worker groups. Findings point to a need for more targeted research into the STS aspects of track working, as well as improving the training and/or procedures of those managing the Lookout protection system of work. © 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.