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Rugby star wins Rail Safety Person of the Year

Network Rail’s Adrian Fricker has won this year’s Rail Safety Person of the Year.

Says Paula Marshall, scheme project manager (Environmental) at Network Rail in Milton Keynes, ‘Adrian has been instrumental in establishing and promoting the work of the Track Safety Alliance (TSA), an industry-wide group which focuses on improving the health, safety and wellbeing of track workers.’

The TSA was formed in 2011 to help companies across the track renewals industry to develop and share best practice. TSA wants to drive a step-change in safety leadership and management throughout the organisations delivering track renewals and enhancement activity on the railway.

The Alliance consists of Network Rail, the Tier 1 principal contractors, the supply chain and the trade unions. This is largely focused on the improvement of health, safety and wellbeing of track workers.

A large part of its success so far is down to the hard work and ingenuity of people like Adrian Fricker.

Paula Marshall continues, ‘Having defined and set up the leadership and management structure of the alliance, he set about organising staff reps and technical forums for front line staff, technical staff and leaders of the principal contractors. Over 1,500 track colleagues have attended these forums to openly discuss and debate safety issues like working at height, PPE and fatigue.’

Adrian Fricker, safety improvement specialist IP- Track Delivery, is not afraid to challenge sponsors and leaders, reminding them of the commitment they made to improve working conditions for staff. New ways to promote the safety work of the alliance emerge and a veritable harvest of good ideas and best practice is finding its way into agreed practice and safety protocols within the rail industry.

‘Under Adrian’s safety leadership, and as a direct result of feedback from track workers, the TSA has led the design and development of a number of safety initiatives including surveys on fatigue, trials of soft drinks on site, pilot of nominated safe drivers and the new ‘safe tea trolley’ – a refreshment trolley, which will allow frontline people to get hot and cold drinks while out on track.

‘Adrian also organised and ran the first TSA safety improvement suggestion scheme, which awarded five cash prizes to track colleagues who came up with practical safety improvements.’

Adrian Fricker is an S&T engineer by trade and lives in Rugby. Based at Milton Keynes, he has been instrumental in the development of the TSA website. He helped make five film briefings, including close calls, fatigue, working at height and safer lineside materials.

Says Adrian, ‘To go there and to be nominated is really humbling. When you walk from the back of the room through all the people and everyone is clapping, it’s quite moving.’

Contractors are now eager to join the alliance and participate in the forums. ‘Without doubt this is down to Adrian; his enthusiasm and passion is never ending. He is a relentless advocate of safety and is tireless in getting colleagues involved in the TSA. In addition to his huge workload in managing and promoting the TSA, he is a passionate supporter of the ‘close call champion’ training and has been instrumental in getting 150 close call champions trained in Network Rail IP Track this year,’ adds Paula.

Adrian always has time for colleagues and has been known to undertake numerous middle of the night site visits getting alongside inexperienced staff, where he displays the same knowledge, good humour and passion to challenge unsafe behaviours. ‘He is a pleasure to work with and the success of the TSA is largely down to his perseverance, hard work and absolute determination to get safety on everyone’s agenda,’ says Paula.

Safety Person of the Year is sponsored by Bridgeway Consulting. Founded in April 1995 in the back of the Victoria Inn outside Beeston station by three British Rail engineers, the company has grown to employ over 600 staff on a comprehensive array of infrastructure projects around the UK rail network.

The award was presented by Bridgeway’s managing director, Pino de Rosa.

Reflecting on the importance of safety within the industry, he said, ‘It means a lot to me. Safety is a key part of what we do as a business. It’s the one thing that has the biggest life-changing impact if it goes wrong.

‘If things are going well, safety is a really passive thing and you hardly notice it and that’s what we want. But actually every action that any individual takes in terms of culture, the way they perform their duties or their attitude, the way they bring team members on, has an impact on the whole rail industry.’

Highly commended

  • Mateusz Lawrynowicz, Bridgeway Consulting Limited
  • Dorian Colling, Volker Fitzpatrick

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