In the UK, one in four adults will experience some sort of mental health issue in their lifetime, according to Network Rail’s ‘Safety Central’. The realisation of this impact on workers has led to RSS Infrastructure (RSSI), a leading supplier of infrastructure services, and INFRA Skills, the UK’s premier safety critical and non-safety critical training provider, designing a series of mechanisms aimed at reducing fatigue and improving working conditions.

As part of ‘World Mental Health Day’ the companies are operating in association with the Mental Health Foundation to help de-stigmatise the perceptions surrounding mental health. Those dealing with mental ill health can feel isolated, and we want to ensure there is always someone close by who can help.

RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills are putting many initiatives in place, to try and reduce the negative impact that a working environment can have on a person, as mixed anxiety and depression have been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.

High levels of fatigue from working long hours can result in lower standards of performance and safety, as well as having an effect on the individual’s wellbeing. With this being said, RSSI have a fatigue monitoring system in place, which commences during the rostering process, where the in-house CRM is used to calculate the travel time to and from site, shift duration and work type. Any concerns with travel exceedance or shift duration (14 hours from door to door) are automatically flagged ensuring that workers cannot be rostered to shifts or projects unless adequate measures, such as local accommodation, are put in place to ensure that ‘Everyone [returns] home safe, everyday”.

RSSI have also taken precautions to make the transportation of workers to the site safer. They have become the first company in the rail sector to utilise a specialist Driver Awareness Warning System (DAWS). The warning system is a dash-mounted device and focuses on the driver’s retina and measures their ‘blinking pattern’ sounding audible warnings if signs of drowsiness, fatigue and/or attention is diverted from the road.

Managing staff’s fatigue, paying above national minimum wage, providing full PPE, making sure they don’t exceed the 14 hours from door to door rule, as well as safe travel to and from work are just some of the ways RSSI are trying to reduce the risk of serious harm caused at work.

Figures show that that 10% of men, and 25% of women are affected in ¬¬some way after a trauma, and there is an increased risk of developing a mental health condition as a result of this. RSS Infrastructure Ltd, are committed to providing support to anyone who may have been involved in or witnessed a traumatic incident.

Plans are also in place to create a Wellbeing Network, with volunteers from the company to complete a mental health first aid course, then meet regularly to discuss initiatives, awareness and support. The Traumatic Incident Plan is already in place, and this ensures that sufficient resources are available to all employees to raise awareness of the normal reaction to a potentially traumatic incident, and to embed principles of watchful waiting throughout the business. The support network for this incident plan will include their wellbeing champions and safety council.

Through these initiatives RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills are helping bolster the efforts that Network Rail have already achieved through their ‘We Listen’ campaign in partnership with the Samaritans. This is helping to reduce the number of rail suicides, which may be caused by mental health, using preventative initiatives such as their ‘Intervention Training’ for railway staff.

Mental Health issues can range from every day worries, to life-long conditions. Support mechanisms such as RSSI’s Traumatic Incident Plan, are aiding the nationwide campaign to support those experiencing mental health issues.

For more information, or for a safe way to seek advice there are many helplines available.

Samaritans
08457 90 90 90
www.samaritans.org

Rethink Mental Illness
0300 5000 927
https://www.rethink.org

MIND
08457 660 163
www.mind.org