C38/1997R A railway worker pushed over by a passenger train in Hämeenlinna, on November 18, 1997

Extensive track work was underway south of Hämeenlinna. On the morning of Tuesday, 18 November 1997, a railway worker who was acting as the assistant on a track lorry had gone to open the lock on a switch so that the track lorry could proceed over the switch after an express train had passed. The lock on the switch had frozen, and the worker had begun to warm the lock with his hands, forgetting about the approaching express train. He did not hear the train approaching, and the engineer on the train did not see the man, who was stooped over next to the track. The protruding parts of the engine hit the worker in the side, and he was thrown a distance of several metres and was injured. The injuries presumably will not lead to any permanent impediment.

The reasons for the accident were an improper working order and a human error. The worker had gone to open the lock on the switch, against the regulations, before the express train had passed the vicinity. The workers were aware that the express train was coming, but the workers on the track lorry had wanted to speed up their work by opening the lock on the switch in advance. The purpose was to cut down on the delay that the work in which the track lorry was involved would otherwise have been caused to train traffic.

A contributing factor to the accident was that the worker did not hear the approach of the train. This was due to the fact that the track lorry was next to the worker, and the noise from its engine hid the sound of the approaching train. A further contributing factor was that the engineer did not see the worker, who was stooped over the switch, until just before the accident. The worker had been wearing State Railways issue dark blue overalls with orange reflectors.

More emphasis should be given to observance of a safe working order. Safety should always take precedence over the speed of train traffic.

Even more attention than at present should be paid to the clothing and visibility of persons working on tracks. If the work safety instructions regarding clothing cannot be followed, workers should at least have on a reflecting vest whenever they are moving and working on tracks that are in use.

C38/1997R Report (pdf, 0.19 Mt)

Published 18.11.1997