Friday, 19 March 2010

Rail Industry Standards for Personal Protective Equipment

PPE generally covers a wide range of clothing and equipment that can be worn by a person at work to protect them from one or more risks to their health and safety. PPE can include; eye protection, safety helmets, hi-vis vests or jackets, gloves or safety footwear.

For the Rail Industry however there are certain items that have specific requirements, for example Network Rail basic PPE Requirements for persons working on or near the track shall wear as a minimum:

• High visibility upper body clothing with reflective tape which complies with BS EN 471: 2003 class 2 and Railway Group Standard GO/RT3279.
• A safety helmet which complies with BS EN 397: 1995.
• Safety footwear which complies with BS EN ISO 20345: 2004, providing effective support to the ankle, mid-sole protection and a protective toe cap.
• Network Rail have also introduced a ’Full Orange Policy’ where high visibility trousers must also be worn.

Particular requirements

The outer layer of the upper body clothing must be clearly marked between the vertical retro-reflective bands on the back with the name or logo of the individual’s Sentinel sponsor or other name or logo agreed with Network Rail (e.g. project, sponsor’s parent company or trade association). This can be in colour or black and either screen-printed or incorporated within a panel, which may be retro-reflective although this is not mandatory.

Safety helmets shall be provided with chin straps where there is a risk of them falling off, short peak helmets may be provided where close or hot work is required.
Holders of a Track Visitors Permit (TVP), a person with a Track Safety (PTS) card with a ‘green square’ symbol on it, or those people involved in the Network Rail Standard Maintenance Procedure NR/PRC/MTC/SE0089, New Starters Mentoring (Passport Scheme) must wear a blue helmet so that all workers can see that they may be inexperienced. All other workers must wear white, any other colours are not allowed.

The name or logo of an individual’s Sentinel Sponsor (or other name or logo agreed with Network Rail) may be marked upon a safety helmet. These markings must not exceed 10% of the safety helmets visible surface area.

Rigger boots do not meet the requirements for ankle protection and must not be used.

In addition to the above, foul weather clothing must be provided to any person whose duties require them to hold Personal Track Safety certification and shall comprise at least the following:

• High visibility jacket or coat which meets the requirements of BS EN 471:2003 class 3 and GO/RT3279 for colour and visibility and of BS EN 343: 2003 class 3 for water vapour resistance and water penetration.
• High visibility over-trousers or leggings which meet the requirements of BS EN 471: 2003 and GO/RT3279 for colour and visibility and of BS EN 343: 2003 class 3 for water vapour resistance and water penetration.

General work wear and sunglasses

Any employee or contractor of Network Rail who goes on or near the line or on the lineside shall be required to wear full-length trousers to protect against the risks from lineside vegetation and the consequences of slips, trips and falls.

Upper body clothing must not be sleeveless, garments such as singlets or vests are prohibited. Full length sleeves are recommended to protect from risks of injury from vegetation and sunburn.

Sunglasses or photochromic lenses may be worn, but care should be taken when using photochromic lenses as they can take a long time to clear when going into darker conditions.
Heavily tinted lenses may reduce the ability to accurately distinguish colours.

Ear Defenders should be worn where there is any risk of noise that reaches levels that could cause damage to hearing.

In certain conditions that will be apparent from the Risk Assessment gloves to protect from chemicals, cold or vibration also need to be worn. Also where there is a danger of fumes or dust the correct respiratory masks are needed.

If operating chainsaws or brush cutters then the correct protective clothing must be worn, all these of course must conform to the GO/RT3279 standard. Also the safety boots worn must achieve the EN ISO 17249:2004 Class 1 standard as a minimum.


In certain situations there is a need for particular accessories for example; warning flags chequered and plain, rail incident armbands (8 different wordings), Lookout Bags and Rail Handsignal Bags.

Duties and responsibilities

Requirements for PPE and workwear shall be documented in work activity risk assessments and safe systems of work. Any PPE identified as necessary through work activity risk assessments must be provided by the employer, this may include hearing protection, eye protection, masks and gloves. They must also ensure that this equipment is worn.

Employees are responsible for using PPE and workwear as required, for keeping it clean and maintaining it in a reasonable condition and for requesting its replacement if it becomes ineffective.

A full range of the items mentioned above can be found on the Granite Workwear site, under the Hi Viz Railway (Orange), Safety Boots, Forestry Footwear, Hardhats, Safety Glasses, Ear Protection, Gloves and Respiration categories.

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