Hazard Alert: Collision at unprotected railway crossing

Hazard Alert: Collision on unprotected railway crossing – Download and share

What happened?

  1. A haul truck leaving the mill yard was hit by oncoming train. The driver was not injured but there was extensive damage to truck.
  2. A haul truck driving over railway tracks was hit by oncoming train and its trailer was dragged more than 50 metres down the track. The driver was not injured and said they did not see the train when they approached the crossing. There was extensive damage to the truck.
  3. A senior forestry manager shared a recent story where they stopped at the railway crossing, looked both ways, and proceeded over tracks--only to see the train coming their way. The driver believes they were distracted and in deep thought since normally no train is present. Luckily, there was no incident. 

How could the incident have been prevented?

  • Avoid complacency: Travelling the same road day after day can lead to complacent behaviour behind the wheel. Always follow safe work procedures at railway crossings and always keep in mind where you are in relation to the crossing.
  • Regular road maintenance near railway crossings can help ensure drivers are alert and aware of the hazards.  This will help reduce near misses and incidents at railway crossings. Active logging and hauling on forestry access roads require regular road maintenance that includes proper grading, dust control, sanding, roadside vegetation control and proper signage. 
  • For mill yards, ensure railway crossings are included in your yard management plan.
  • Make a list of all railway crossings and ensure proper warning signage is placed on both sides of each crossing at a proper distance. Roadside vegetation must be monitored annually to ensure all signs stay highly visible. Keep vegetation low on each side of the crossing to increase line of sight for approaching drivers.

Travelling on forest access roads and mill yards with unprotected railway crossings requires attentive driving and a proactive roads and yards management plan.

Contact your WSN Health and Safety Specialist for more information.

Tips for safe railway crossings

  • Communicate often and have regular safety talks to keep drivers alert about railway crossing.
  • Review Safe Work Practices or mill yard management plans for railway crossing safety.
  • Adhere to advanced warning signs of railway crossing by slowing down – if they are not there or not visible make aware to who is responsible for roads maintenance.
  • Ensure stop signs are visibly bright and not faded at each crossing.
  • Come to a complete stop at least five metres before the nearest rail. Do not inch-up or creep over the tracks. STOP! Then listen and look both ways for oncoming trains.
  • Use extra caution during glare of sunrise or sunset.
  • Do not cross the track until you are sure there are no on coming trains approaching.
  • Never race a train and cross the tracks just ahead of it – a train can take up to two km to come to a complete stop and it takes a haul truck at least 15 seconds to go over a set of tracks.
  • Never stop on the tracks.
  • If your vehicle does get stuck on the tracks and a train is approaching, get out of vehicle immediately, move to a safe location and contact authorities.
  • Work with railway company to ensure the railway safety features and signage are following site requirements for compliance.
  • Continuously do a complacency self-check.

Be alert, slow down and expect to encounter a train at every crossing


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