Psychological bid to cut rail industry injuries

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A leading rail industry contractor has turned to a Sheffield Hallam University scientist to help it reduce the risk of accidents by using cutting edge psychological techniques.

Senior psychology lecturer Dr Jim Morgan has been called in by Doncaster-based VolkerRail to assess the human factors that may contribute towards accidents.

Dr Morgan said: “VolkerRail has a great safety record but is determined to lower the risk of employee injury even further.

“In all lines of work, external factors can intervene to alter a work environment and heighten injury risk.

“This first study will be looking for examples of this, and will learn from workers how they negotiate and cope with risk in these situations.”

Dr Morgan’s research concentrates on finding ways to help organisations improve their effectiveness while maintaining or improving employee health and well-being. He is also interested in the factors that influence risky decision-making and performance at work, particularly in safety-critical environments.

VolkerRail’s health, safety, quality and environmental director, Stuart Webster-Spriggs said: “VolkerRail is committed to improving safety based on factual evidence and a true understanding of behaviours.

“This collaborative project with Sheffield Hallam University gives us the perfect opportunity to identify behavioural aspects in decision making and the measures needed to ensure the correct attitudes are realised and adopted, influence the decision making processes and intervene at a management level before accidents/incidents and close calls occur.”

n VolkerRail’s clients include Network Rail, London Underground and most of the UK’s light rail and tram operating companies.