The medical requirements for rail safety workers depend on the risk of the work which they perform. These requirements are split into a number of medical categories. The categories are based on the criticality of the work being done and the consequences of any medical impairment for others.
Medical assessments can only be performed by medical practitioners who have been authorised to do so by the railway organisation. They must perform the assessments in accordance with a national standard.
Safety Critical Worker - Category 1 & Category 2
A safety critical worker is one whose attentiveness and alertness while performing their duties is critical, and a lapse in concentration due to ill health could directly lead to a serious incident. Medical assessments for safety critical workers must be carried out by a medical practioner who has been authorised to do so by the railway organisation. These authorised medical practitioners must meet the selection criteria specified in the Health Assessment standard.
Category 1 - High Level Safety Critical Worker
A worker is a Category 1 Worker if sudden incapacity or collapse while performing their work tasks could lead to a serious incident. Category 1 workers are also required to have a Cardiac Risk Score assessment - this is an evaluation of the risk of cardiovascular disease and collapse from heart attack or stroke.
Category 2 - Safety Critical Worker
If a sudden incapacity will not impact on the safety of the network, the worker is a Category 2 worker. Conditions which may impact on safe working ability include epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, alcohol dependence, drug dependence and psychiatric disorders.
Medical assessments for Category 1 and Category 2 workers are to be carried out prior to commencing any work on the railway, and then at regular intervals as outlined below :
- Every 5 years up to age 50
- Every 2 years age 50-60
- Every year age 60 onwards.
Around the Track Personnel - Category 3
Workers in these categories are also known as non-safety critical workers. Their ill-health will not impact directly on the safety of the rail network or the public.
As around the track personnel these workers are responsible for their own safety and the safety of fellow workers, and the categorisation of around the track personnel depends on their exposure to moving rolling stock.
Category 3 workers are defined as those who operate in an uncontrolled environment, and are required to have a track safety health assessment. These assessments may be carried out by a nurse with training in occupational health.
Around the track personnel who work in a controlled environment are Category 4 workers, and there are no explicit rail safety work medical requirements for these persons, although there may be OHS medical requirements.
Medical assessments for Category 3 workers are to be carried out prior to commencing any work on the railway, and then at intervals as outlined below :
- Every 5 years from age of 40 and over.