The importance of legislated medical assessments for Rail Safety Workers

The National Standard for Health Assessment of Rail Safety Workers exists to assist Rail Transport Operators in meeting their legislated requirements to manage risks posed by the ill-health of their employees and contractors. This standard sets out how the health of rail safety workers should be assessed as this is essential for the safety of the rail network.

The standard applies to all workers, whether around the track personnel or working in safety critical roles. Rail transport operators are responsible for managing their contractors and ensuring that contractors meet their responsibilities for rail safety worker health assessments. Many contractors request these assessments as preparation for potential work with rail transport operators.

Let’s take a look at each assessment:

Category 3 assessments

These are the most straightforward assessments for around the track personnel, or non-safety critical workers. They focus on the worker’s safety and ability to detect and react quickly to an oncoming train or warnings and consist of:

  • Questionnaire to identify conditions that could affect their safety around the track.
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Physical assessment for mobility around the track

Category 3 assessments are required before commencement of work, then every 5 years from the age of 40 years.

Safety critical workers (Category 1 and 2)

Safety Critical Workers are those whose action or inaction may lead directly to a serious incident affecting the public or the rail network. These health assessments aim to ensure ill health does not affect their vigilance and attentiveness on the job.

Conditions that may impact vigilance and attentiveness at work include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, epilepsy, various other neurological conditions, sleep disorders, alcohol and drug dependence, psychiatric disorders, and visual problems.

Category 1 and 2 assessments are required before commencement of work and every 5 years*, then every 2 years from the age of 50 years and annually from 60 years of age.

*Unless they have a medical condition requiring annual review.

Category 2 assessments

Category 2 Safety Critical Workers are those whose work requires high levels of attentiveness, but for whom sudden incapacity or collapse does not affect the safety of the rail network, for example due to back up fail-safe systems in some signalling roles.

These consist of:

  • Questionnaire to identify conditions that could affect safety, including:
    • Epworth Sleepiness Scale
    • Alcohol AUDIT
    • Psychological K10
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Physical assessment

Category 1 assessments

Category 1 Safety Critical Workers are the highest level of Safety Critical Worker where sudden incapacity or collapse (e.g. from a heart attack or blackout) may result in a serious incident affecting the public or the rail network.

Category1 assessments include all the components of a Category assessment above, plus:

  • HbA1c blood test for Diabetes
  • Cardiac Risk Score calculation including:
  • Cholesterol blood tests
  • ECG

Urine drug and breath alcohol testing

Regulation 28 includes the requirement that operators must identify workers who have alcohol or other drug related problems, and, where appropriate, refer those workers to be assessed and treated, counselled, or rehabilitated.

The Standard does not include specific requirements for drug and alcohol screening, which is addressed through local requirements in each state or territory, or by individual rail transport operator policy.

Bodycare is experienced in organising drug and alcohol testing, which is commonly performed with CAT Rail Assessments.

Your duty as an employer

Ensuring that your employees and contractors are fit for duty is paramount for maintaining the integrity, and safety of the railway system. Given the high-risk nature of their responsibilities, it is imperative that these workers are in optimal physical and mental condition to perform their duties effectively. By prioritising the health and safety of each worker, employers mitigate the risk of accidents, injuries, and disruptions to railway operations, thereby safeguarding the wellbeing of both employees and the public while maintaining the integrity of the rail network.

Why choose Bodycare to perform your Rail Safety Worker Assessments?

Bodycare is experienced in providing these statutory health assessments for our clients and utilises only authorised health professionals who must meet specific selection criteria regarding their knowledge and understanding of the rail occupational environment.

Get in touch with Bodycare to discuss how we can assist you with your Rail Safety Worker Assessments.

Bodycare looks forward to helping your company meet all Rail Safety Standards to continually improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of your employees and the public. Contact our team for a confidential discussion about your occupational health needs today.