Thursday, March 16, 2023
ONRSR has welcomed a conviction, under Rail Safety National Law, recorded against a rail safety worker whose actions endangered others at a Queensland worksite in 2020.
The individual in question pleaded guilty to failing to meet the safety duties required when, while working as a Protection Officer, he suspended a Track Occupancy Authority without ensuring machinery and other rail safety workers were clear of the site. The Protection Officer also failed to undertake pre-start work briefings and did not implement lockout procedures or put in-field warning protection measures in place.
A train subsequently collided with an Elevated Work Platform (EWP), having narrowly missed two workers still within the danger zone who had to run to safety (from an elevated bridge) when a train approached without them having any warning.
“A train did in fact collide with the EWP and had someone been within the EWP, they would have at least suffered serious injuries,” Magistrate Cook found.
In welcoming the conviction and a $15,000 fine, ONRSR is reiterating the importance of safety duties and the responsibility rail safety workers have for their own safety and that of others.
Section 56 of the RSNL outlines the duties of rail safety workers, key among them being the need to, when carrying out rail safety work:
(a) take reasonable care for his or her own safety; and
(b) take reasonable care that his or her acts or omissions do not adversely affect the safety of other persons.
The maximum penalty for individuals who breach this section of RSNL is a $150,000 fine.
While ONRSR’s investigation into this matter looked at organisational and systemic failures – it was not appropriate to ignore the deliberate safety violations of an individual that placed work colleagues at serious risk of harm.
Operators and individuals with questions about the safety duties of rail safety workers should contact your local ONRSR office.
The ONRSR Fact Sheet: Duties of Rail Safety Workers is also available from the ONRSR website or via the link below.