On the right track

Psychometric testing for rail workers

Research commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has shown that new recruitment tests for track workers could improve safety on the railways.

The psychometric tests identify key attributes including a safe personality, concentration and knowledge of specialist track working rules. The tests have been linked to safety improvements in training and on the job.

The research is particularly relevant after the eight track fatalities that have occurred on the railways to date this year, the highest death toll in 14 years.

Dr Stephen Fletcher, director of psychology firm OPC Assessment, which carried out the research, said train drivers had had psychometric testing for 15 years, but track workers had not.

He said: “Track workers have often been seen as the poor relation, with little or no acknowledgement and testing of the skills and personality attributes needed to be safe and effective in a role. The research shows that getting the right person into the role is critical to ensuring safety.”

In October, rail recruitment firm McGinley was heavily criticised and fined £175,000 in an Old Bailey trial following the death of student railway worker Michael Mungovan on a railway line near Vauxhall station in 2000.

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