Safe railways for Australia

Managing safety


Safety management, in the context of rail operations, is an ongoing process. It is an essential requirement to both receive and maintain accreditation.

There are five key parts to effective rail safety management:

  • identification of all the hazards and risks to safety
  • planning of actions to eliminate or reduce the risks
  • competent people to implement controls and defences
  • regular monitoring of both the risks and effectiveness of the controlling actions
  • identification and management of changes to the operational risk profile.

A central component of these requirements is a safety management system (SMS), part of which is where a rail transport operator documents its safety risks, controls and methods for monitoring.

Safety responsibilities

The Rail Safety National Law has been developed with the principles of shared responsibility and accountability. All parties associated with the railway have responsibilities.

Safety management systems

A safety management system (SMS) is a rail transport operator’s primary means for identifying hazards, recording the risks to safety it has identified within its operations and detailing how those risks are managed and monitored.

Contractor management

Accredited rail transport operators have obligations to continue managing safety when engaging in contracts for construction, maintenance, repair or rail operations. Contractors also have safety obligations whether or not they are accredited.

Interface coordination

The purpose of the interface coordination provisions of the Rail Safety National Law 2012 is to ensure that rail transport operators and road managers identify risks to safety arising from rail or road crossings; determine measures to manage, so far as is reasonable practicable, those risks and seek to enter into interface agreements to manage the risks.

 Last updated: 6 September 2013