The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has now released its report into the collision between the MEWP and a stationary machine during overhead line installation work in Rochford in January.
Two people were injured when the machine operator in charge of the MEWP lost focus while driving and hit a stationary machine.
Investigators discovered racial tension between Network Rail’s Overhead Condition Renewals (OCR) team and agency-supplied machine controllers.
The report stated there were “reportedly racial and cultural tensions between the predominantly white OCR full-time employees, and predominantly black agency-supplied machine controllers.”
It added: “There is very little interaction between the full-time staff and agency workers. As such there is no opportunity to forge a ‘team’ relationship to increase trust.”
Investigators also found an excessive focus on ‘getting the job done’ rather than compliance with rules and operating standards
The RAIB has now made five recommendations to Network Rail to improve working practices.
Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “It was particularly disturbing to find underlying evidence that racial, language and cultural tensions were factors in the accident at Rochford.
“Safety relies on mutual respect within teams, for each other and for each person’s role. If this is lacking for any reason, then as well as creating a culture of disrespect, it creates an environment in which accidents are more likely to happen.
“I am pleased that Network Rail has already recognised this problem in one of its subsidiary companies and is taking action to improve the situation.”
For a full copy of the report click here.