The traction workshop in Arlon has reached the milestone of four years without a workplace accident, a record for safety and risk prevention in an industrial environment. Since 2017, there has been a decrease of more than 30% in workplace accidents among the technical teams in SNCB's workshops. The company is determined to continue its ongoing efforts to improve safety in the workplace.

For several years, SNCB has been stepping up its efforts to make safety a priority in the workshops and maintenance stations, where almost 5,000 people work. At the Arlon workshop, the team has had precisely 1,481 uninterrupted days without a workplace accident with incapacity, and SNCB has also seen a 30% reduction in such accidents for all workshops and maintenance stations since 2017. These examples highlight the safety efforts of all train maintenance teams.

An industrial environment

SNCB workshop staff handle heavy components and powerful machines every day. They operate in an accident-prone industrial environment where safety must come first. Any inattention, distraction or deviation from a rule can be enough to cause an accident, sometimes with very serious consequences.

Workers carry out work on electrical systems, handle heavy vehicle parts and come into contact with hazardous materials on a daily basis. In this context, safety is essential to avoid falls, loss of control of a tool or any other incident.

Behind this four-year accident-free record at the Arlon workshop lies a strong safety culture. This culture was encouraged by Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of SNCB, when she visited Arlon at the end of June to meet the teams and congratulate them on their collective efforts.

Committed to safety

Reducing accidents in the workplace is essential for the physical integrity and well-being of staff members, and helps to reduce absenteeism. Over the last few years, particular attention has been paid to the ability of all staff members to report problems and find ways to solve them. This is achieved by giving the necessary time and attention to safety in the workplace and intensifying the daily commitment of every colleague in the workshop and in management, as well as making every employee responsible for their safety and that of their colleagues.

Sébastien Angé, workshop manager: "This is the result of a long-term effort since the first day of operation of the new workshop, with a daily target of zero accidents. This milestone marks a collective commitment. All employees are involved in maintaining order and cleanliness in the workshop. All equipment is returned to its original position after use. At our daily meetings, the team identifies potential risks and hazards, and we make sure we react immediately. New risks emerge every day, and safety can never be taken for granted. We need to constantly challenge ourselves and listen to workers on the ground, as this is crucial in making colleagues feel listened to and involved, and in encouraging them to report the problems they face. This is the principle of shared vigilance. "

At Arlon, as at other workshops, a safety culture based on training, risk analysis and clear processes is at the heart of the business. The teams analyse every incident, with the support of the prevention consultant, to identify actions that reduce or eliminate the risks that could lead to an accident. These analyses identify the often multiple root causes that led to the incident. The results of these analyses are then shared with all the workshops to draw their attention to the identified risk, develop similar actions if necessary, and adjust working methods.

Every member of staff therefore plays an active part in the safety culture, by being aware of the risks, being well trained and putting in place measures to make working methods safer in a constructive and positive working environment.

Repeating safety messages

The basic principles of safety are constantly reiterated in the workshops, to avoid habit and routine, which can lead to a loss of attention and vigilance. Considerable energy is therefore devoted to repeating safety messages.

The #SafeTogether internal awareness campaign, launched by SNCB in 2021, carries emotional and rational messages and highlights in particular the wearing of safety equipment, staff visibility in the workshop, the correct handling of heavy loads, vigilance when moving around and circulating in the workshop, the marking out of work areas, the tidying up, use and storage of dangerous products, as well as the attention to be paid to colleagues at all times.

Workshop expertise

SNCB has 12 workshops and 17 maintenance stations and employs almost 5,000 technicians. These workshops are responsible for the maintenance and repair of SNCB railway equipment, freight vehicles and high-speed trains. Their activities include structural renovation, maintenance, installation of maintenance safety systems, cleaning and repairs.

The Arlon traction workshop, commissioned in 2016, is responsible for the maintenance and repair of 54 type 08 (Desiro) railcars. The complex comprises the workshop, the maintenance station (cleaning and inspection yard) and the repair station. In addition to repairing all rail equipment running in the region, including freight, the workshop carries out periodic maintenance, repairs and cleaning of AM08s, in-depth inspections of HLE13s and 18s, and, more recently, repairs and maintenance of M6 double-decker carriages. Lastly, all passenger equipment is cleaned inside and out.

SNCB workshops are also constantly recruiting for jobs as electromechanics, mechanics, shunting drivers and material surveyors. SNCB also offers training courses so that candidates can acquire the skills they need to perform their duties.