13 November 2020

Eave CEO: RAIB report into tragic Margam accident another missed opportunity

David Greenberg, CEO of Eave, commented: 

“The RAIB’s report into the tragic accident at Margam represents yet another missed opportunity to improve the safety of railway workers. 

“According to the authors of the report, one of the main causal factors of the accident was that track workers did not hear the train approaching. And why didn’t they hear it? According to the report it was because they were ‘using a noisy machine’ and so were unable to hear the oncoming train’s horn or the shouts of their colleagues. With this frustratingly superficial conclusion, the report moves on – completely failing to call out the role passive ear defenders played in the accident in what is a critical section of the report. 

“As Eave has said many times, passive ear defenders are not fit for purpose – they effectively blindfold the ears, dramatically reducing situational awareness, and making workplace accidents much more likely. If the victims of the Margam accident had been issued with active hearing protection with hear-through functionality they would have had a much better chance of hearing the oncoming train’s horn – and the shouts of their colleagues – and clearing the track in time.” 

“The RAIB’s report says that Network Rail is already ‘seeking technical advice from RSSB on the appropriateness of hearing protection for track workers’. This is quite simply not good enough. We call on Network Rail to mandate active hearing protection for all of their workforce – without delay. Railway workers should not have to choose between deaf or dead; there is no reason to delay and risk the loss of further lives.”