First Prize Essay
First Prize Essay
(By P. J. Raleigh, Guard, Greymouth.)
After a century of railway working all over the world, and despite the fact that we have almost said the last word in safety, both in protecting the millions who travel by train and the employees who work them, accidents still happen and sometimes with disastrous results. It is with a view to minimising them, so far as our own railways are concerned, that I would give a little sound advice to the younger members of the service, and I include all Departments, viz., Locomotive, Traffic and Maintenance. From experience gained in the course of nearly twenty-five years in the Traffic Branch, I have come to the conclusion that it is the younger men of the service who really need advice on the question of safety. There is an old saying “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Take the locomotive Department first. If a knoek develops on an engine, the good old saying, “take no risk,” is at once apparent—you may come in contact with a bridge or other obstacle. Play safe, stop, and then look round for anything loose about the engine. The same remarks apply to the fireman. If he has to trim coal there is always the danger of striking an overhead bridge or telegraph wires crossing the line. Keep well down towards the front of the tender when engaged in this work. When an engine is slipping badly, and the sand pipes are blocked, great care requires to be exercised; if tapping pipes with hammer or other tools you are dangerously close to the motion, and a shattered arm is the result if you come into contact with same. Again I say, play safe, stop and adjust matters. To my mind one of the most dangerous undertakings on our railways is performed by an employee who is called upon to run over any portion of the track with a velocipede or trolley. Here it is a question of being absolutely sure of your whereabouts and the time the train is due to pass, to say nothing of special trains. No chance must be taken here—it is all too perilous. Be certain your watch is correct time and that you have advice of specials running. Don't foolishly go ahead although you may be a little late, especially where curves or tunnels intervene. It is usually at curves where the long list of fatalities is added to. Again I say, “Don't risk it for the sake of a few minutes. It's not safe. Your life is worth more than a few minutes.” A train speeding into the station at a fairly high rate of speed seems to have a fascination, and sometimes a fatal one, for the young and more athletic members of the staff, who, to save a walk of a few hundred yards, will deliberately risk their life by attempting to jump on the engine, wagons, or footboards of cars. They sometimes miss and—you know the result. This dangerous practice has unfortunately taken a heavy toll of members in the past. Think twice when you see a train running into the station and don't endanger your life in this way. Sometimes work about the yard, such as cleaning points, etc., entails a member being engaged in close proximity to the rails. Always make it a practice to work at the side of the rails. You can do this work equally as well as by taking up a position in the centre of the track, and don't forget to keep a good lookout both in front and rear. Always keep in mind a rake of trucks or engine may come along. When working in their repair siding or when circumstances arise where it is necessary to go under a car or wagon for any purpose, train examiners would be well advised to place (in addition to the discs put up to block the road) one or two detonators on the track a little distance from where their work is. Always remember, no shunter has an infallible memory. Protect yourself; it makes you doubly safe. To all members I say never get into the bad habit of walking between buffers of wagons or cars at short distances apart. I think it is the worst fault any employee can have levelled against...