UIMC

The UIMC, the International Union of Railway Medical Services, is an autonomous special group under the aegis of the UIC, the International union of railways with headquarters in Paris.

Tasks

The UIMC performs the following tasks:

  • Promotion and dissemination of progress in relation to railway medicine
  • Facilitation of professional contact between railway medical officers with the aim of exchanging information and medical knowledge
  • Communication of research papers on railway medicine, regular inter-disciplinary and international exchange of medical knowledge at the annual scientific congress
  • Promotion of medical research specific to the railways and application of the results in day-to-day practice
  • Attainment of the highest possible level of railway operating safety and the best possible care of railway staff.

History

The UIMC was founded in 1948 as a company under Belgian law by a group of leading medical officers from European railway undertakings. It rapidly became a worldwide organisation with a membership extending to Asia, Africa and South America. For organisational and structural reasons the UIMC has operated since 1995 under the aegis of the UIC as an autonomous special group of medical experts appointed by their railways as delegates of their medical services.

Objectives

The aim of UIMC members, like all those employed on the railways and external medical bodies working for railway companies, is to ensure and to improve the safety, functioning and efficiency of the railways. From a medical perspective this is achieved by striving to attain healthy organisations with healthy workers, and by having medical standards that are evidence-based and best practice. This requires occupational health specialists who are well-acquainted with the working conditions and stresses and strains involved in the railway industry. Railway medical officers ensure that health and safety standards at work are adhered to and ensure that healthcare, psychological, preventive occupational medicine, and health promotion services are provided. With regard to globalisation and worldwide exchange of knowledge, advantage should be taken of synergies and international collaboration must be fostered.

Activities

The annual UIMC Congress provides a platform for international exchange of experience, updates on advances in railway medicine through the presentation of scientific papers, and the development of projects and creation of working groups. In Europe, UIMC collaborates closely with the Community of European Railways (CER) with a view to harmonising provisions relating to medical fitness in cross-border traffic for interoperability purposes.

UIMC’s working groups deal with various scientific topics. In 2018-2019, two UIMC working groups focused on updating the chapters on alcohol and drugs and on psychiatric disorders in the UIMC Railway Medical Guidelines. Today, the impact of psychiatric disorders on wellbeing and the importance of mental health is being increasingly recognised in the railway industry and in society generally. Many medical issues in the railways are related to psychiatric disorders, including the misuse of drugs and alcohol, but international standards for assessment were hitherto outdated. For example, psychotropic medications are an important part of the effective treatment for most psychiatric disorders and, taken correctly, the benefits usually outweigh the side effects. Fitness for train driving and safety critical work must be assessed in an internationally harmonised and scientifically robust way.

In September 2018 at the annual UIMC Congress in Luxembourg, numerous topics were discussed including health promotion, prevention programs, health surveillance, safety, drug usage compared to aptitude testing of performance, medical fitness assessment and new challenges relating to work methods and procedures. These discussions were continued in Rome in October 2019.

One of the goals of our organisation is to promote a continuous flow of information, thus enabling the ongoing growth in expertise of our members. Hence, in addition to the annual congress the UIMC encourages collaboration throughout the year via working groups, email and teleconference.

Human factors are essential aspects of railway safety systems and common safety methods. We need international exchange of knowledge and common standards to be able to advise the railways (both companies and national and international regulatory bodies) on standards for aptitude assessment and methods of promoting health amongst railway workers.

At the general assembly in Rome 2019, a new management committee was elected which will set the strategic direction for UIMC for the coming years.

UIMC congress

Upcoming event
The next UIMC Congress will be held in Dublin, Ireland, from 2 to 4 September 2020.
New members and guests are welcome to the Congress. Participation is free for UIMC members and 600 EUR for guests.

Previous event
Rome (2019)
Luxembourg (2018)

Invitation to participate

The UIMC therefore invites all UIC member railways whose medical services are not yet represented on the UIMC, to cooperate within or with the UIMC. All forms of membership including railway company observer status or membership through their umbrella organisations from all continents are welcome. The UIC contact in Paris is: Meryem Belhaj

New membership enquiries should be directed to the Chair or the General Secretary of the UIMC.

Contact

If you wish to obtain a document or to leave a message contact:

  • The Chair: Christian Gravert
  • The Vice Chair: Armand Casolin
  • Or the General Secretary: Stuart Turnbull
  • Or UIC contact in Paris: Meryem Belhaj

please, give your contact details.

Keywords