Railway Employees Killed on Duty

Today we remember a Western Australian railway employee killed while on duty.

Jeffery BIGGERS
Date of death:
22-12-1981
Designation:
Ganger
Location:
Hines Hill
Nature of accident:
Struck by train

To search for more information about a particular employee, visit the search page here

 

Many occupations throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries involved an inordinate level of danger to life and limb. Any list of dangerous industries will always have railways at or near the top.

This compilation contains the names of more than 300 railwaymen who were killed or died while on duty between 1879 and today. Many workers have also suffered injuries, some life-threatening, which it has not been possible to include here.

Death or serious injury, in the days before compulsory workers' compensation insurance, could, and often did, result in the victim's family being left destitute. The families often had to rely, at least in the short term, on the charity of their community and the generosity of the injured or deceased worker's colleagues.

Many men, stationed at outlying depots, were faced with such rudimentary medical facilities that an injury which may have been survivable in a large town or city could and often did prove fatal.

Contemporary newspaper reports and edited transcripts of coronial enquires have been included where they are available. Some photographs of these railwaymen have been made available by descendants and other family members.

Australian Railway Monument

This list has been updated from that which was provided for the Western Australian wall at the Australian Railway Monument at Werris Creek, New South Wales, and more detailed information obtained. The Monument's website can be visited at Australian Railway Monument.

Employees, not passengers

It should be emphasised that these workers were employees, not public passengers.
In fact, Western Australia's railways have an excellent record of safety for their passengers. More than 2.1 BILLION paying passengers have been carried on WA railways since 1879, and only 5 deaths to passengers are known - the last in 1917.

Study of the deaths recorded in these records will also show that the rate of loss of life among employees has been greatly reduced, as many of the more dangerous practices of the past have been eliminated, or modified for safety.

Sources of information

My efforts in compiling this listing were made much easier by the solid foundation of information gathered and collated by Jeff Austin of Rail Heritage WA and the invaluable research undertaken by Mrs. Maxine Smyth of Swan View.

Note: It has not been possible to identify all persons who may have died working for contractors building or working about railways, so this list is as exhaustive as possible for those who were employed by a railway operator at the time of their fatal accident.

This information has been gathered from many sources. It is not the intention of the authors to cause any offense whatsoever and we sincerely hope that none is taken. Neither Rail Heritage WA nor the research volunteers accepts any responsibility for any errors or omissions. Advice regarding any errors is welcome and where verified the errors will be corrected.

The criteria for inclusion on the list are;

  • Employment by a railway operator or a contractor engaged in railway construction, maintenance or operations;
  • On duty at the time of the fatal accident or incident;
  • Died at the time of the accident or incident as a direct or indirect result of the accident or incident; or
  • Died sometime after the accident or incident (hours, days, weeks, months or years) as a direct or indirect result of the accident or incident.

If you have any further information, or wish to advise us of any errors or omissions please contact our research officer team at research@railheritagewa.org.au or Michael at accounts@railheritagewa.org.au.