Research slated for causes, remedies to
July 21, 2008
Source: Canadian Occupational Health & Safety News
Printer friendly version
Transport Canada and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in
the United States are partnering up to research the prevalence of
suicide on railways and possible countermeasures.
Noting that suicides can take a heavy toll on the mental health of
railway staff, the two organizations have agreed to undertake the
comprehensive study, which is to be completed within five years. The
research will be carried out by a third party consultant.
Jean Riverin, a Transport Canada spokesman, says the project aims to
provide "a clearer picture of the prevalence and also the causal
factors of suicides on railway rights of way." It will recommend
"effective, socially-based measures" to reduce incidences of suicide
and it will "identify strategies to mitigate the negative impacts of
these suicides on railway staff."
No suicide incidents in particular have prompted the study, he says.
Rather, Transport Canada and the FRA have identified the topic as an
area where comprehensive information is lacking.
"The potential for good to come out of this is significant," says
Roger Cameron, spokesman for the Railway Association of Canada,
which includes large and small railway companies across the country.
"There is not a clear understanding of just how extensive the
suicide issue is," Cameron says, adding there are indications that
suicides might account for half of all deaths on railway property.
The number of collisions between trespassers and trains has
fluctuated over the years, but fell from a high of 127 in 1996 to 91
in 2006. Of the 91 collisions, 58 resulted in deaths and 27 in
serious injuries, according to the Transportation Safety Board of
The effects of a collision on a train engineer and other rail
workers can be significant. "It has an impact, there's no question
about it. It can be very stressful," Cameron says, noting that
collisions may force an employee to miss time from work, which is
something railway companies encourage as part of their set
procedures for collisions.