Tuesday, November 24, 2020
ONRSR’s ability to take a detailed and formal look at the circumstances behind a specific rail safety issue is a fundamental element of our broader role in administering Rail Safety National Law. But, exactly how does the national regulator approach investigations?
The short answer is a simple one. Because, while it may sound somewhat obvious, in essence, an ONRSR investigation is nothing more or less than the means by which we can find out what happened. Each year ONRSR undertakes dozens of investigations, looking into issues or incidents big and small to ascertain the facts that allow it to perform one of its primary functions under the law - facilitating the safe operation of rail transport in Australia.
At all times ONRSR investigates for the facts. An investigation is a fair, unbiased and systematic process to establish the facts of a matter. It does not drive an outcome.
Investigations also play an integral role in the effective functioning of the co-regulatory model. In carrying out their role, ONRSR investigators will often collect information and data from rail safety workers, and having established exactly what happened and why, ONRSR can then work with a rail transport operator in a range of ways to deliver the best possible safety outcome.
As a direct result of stakeholder feedback, more recently ONRSR has also started communicating the outcomes of our investigations, where appropriate, through Engauge or the animations on our website. This widens the educational message coming from investigations.
Of course, sometimes an investigation is a precursor to more serious regulatory activities necessary to enforce compliance with the law, including prosecutions. These are a very important part of ensuring that all of us with a stake in rail safety work to prevent unsafe practices reoccurring. We also take account of the public interest when considering whether a prosecution is an appropriate enforcement option and the message that sends to the wider community.
For further information visit the Investigations Page on the ONRSR website where you can also download a copy of The ONRSR Way, our key regulatory document that provides regulated parties with a clear understanding of how we do business.